Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell [Review]

Once Upon a River3.5 out of 5 Robots!

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
Genre: Adult Fiction
Release: July 5, 2011
Hardcover: 348 Pages
Publisher: W.W. Norton and Co.
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
Bonnie Jo Campbell has created an unforgettable heroine in sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, a beauty whose unflinching gaze and uncanny ability with a rifle have not made her life any easier. After the violent death of her father, in which she is complicit, Margo takes to the Stark River in her boat, with only a few supplies and a biography of Annie Oakley, in search of her vanished mother. But the river, Margo's childhood paradise, is a dangerous place for a young woman traveling alone, and she must be strong to survive, using her knowledge of the natural world and her ability to look unsparingly into the hearts of those around her. Her river odyssey through rural Michigan becomes a defining journey, one that leads her beyond self-preservation and to the decision of what price she is willing to pay for her choices. (Courtesy of the Publisher)
Shannon's Thoughts:
There is no doubt this is a extremely well written book.  But I can’t say I loved it.  I found Margo to be so frustrating.  She is so disconnected and remote.  Even though the book is told from her perspective, I still have no idea who she is.  At times she is so slow to react to things and then other times she is impulsive.  One minute she is letting herself be taken advantage of by men and the next minute she is killing every stag that comes her way.  But the writing is so good that it helps to make up for Margo.  At times I was breathless reading to see what happens, but other times it felt a little slow and murky.  I know this book is getting tons of media buzz, but its just so hard for me to enjoy a book when I feel nothing for the main character.  By the end, I didn’t really care what happened to her.  Which is good because there isn’t much resolution.  

I will say this as a caveat though. My opinion of this book is completely a matter of personal taste.  If you are a person who enjoys excellent writing, then you should read this book.  I am more of a character driven reader, so when I come across books like this I judge it on how connected I am to the characters and their lives and world.  If I can’t connect, then I tend to be disappointed in the book. But some people can enjoy a beautifully written book without being bogged down by whether they like the characters or not.  If you like books like Swamplandia! then you will probably enjoy this one too.

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