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The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


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Every Book Has a Silver Lining: The River

Christina Huang
In this weekly review, Every Book has a Silver Lining, staff reporter Christina Huang takes a look at books to find their silver lining.

Some readers of Mary Jane Beaufrand’s 2010 realistic fiction novel, The River (also published under the name Dark River) may have found the inviting premise that originally drew them in to be misleading. For others, it brought everything as promised—and more.

16-year-old Veronica (Ronnie) Severance faces her unsteady transition from the life she leads now in a rural town in Oregon, thinking only of the life she had in the city despite having lived in the town of Hoodoo for a year when the story kicks off. However, she finds the ability to see the beauty of her surroundings through the aid of a 10-year-old girl. But after discovering the body of Karen, the girl, she returns to the mysterious river where Karen took her last breath.

Although the summary hints at a great mystery to be discovered, several readers found the reveal to be anti-climactic and less of a thriller than anticipated. The Santiam River itself is personified, bringing in mentions of the Mexican legend La Llorona. In spite of that, it’s only briefly mentioned, contributing to the issue some readers had of too many—arguably clashing—elements coming together.

Following the setup, an introduction after the possibly confusing start, Beaufrand uses flashbacks to illustrate the former relationship Karen and Ronnie shared, which readers weren’t able to see beforehand, building a connection to the girl even after her passing.

Readers are split on the romance aspect of things. Some point out that all her emotions seem too unbelievably unstable, while others argue that it isn’t too far-fetched considering her age. Ronnie, no matter what the blurb may have led readers to assume, isn’t largely a detective. Instead, for much of the story, her conflict is internal, as expected when facing the trauma she did.

There are several smaller mysteries; secrets that the side characters hide, which, while adding additional excitement to the story, left readers disappointed at the lack of detail into these characters, unable to fully sympathize as they view Beaufrand’s world tethered to the lens through which Ronnie sees her surroundings. The environment is incorporated smoothly and regularly into the novel as well, helping it stand out amongst the other books that may be similar.

With uneven pacing and a winding plot that wasn’t too clear at times, balanced by the suspense the writing itself created, The River, even though it undeniably had positives, fell just short of expectations and was swallowed up by the rush of competition, a story genuine yet not difficult to forget.

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About the Contributor
Christina Huang
Christina Huang, Staff Reporter/Interactive Media Editor
Christina Huang is a sophomore in her first year officially with Wingspan. She enjoys reading, writing, playing the piano and viola, and finding/creating wallpapers for her phone which she will likely never use. She’s looking forward to the opportunity to better her writing and find the good in scorned books this year through her book blog: Every Book Has a Silver Lining. Contact Christina:

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