Book Review: "River's Song" by Melody Carlson

Summary from Following her mother’s funeral, and on the verge of her own midlife crisis, widow Anna Larson returns to the home of her youth to sort out her parents’ belongings, as well as her own turbulent life. Her relationship with her daughter is in shambles, and the tension between Anna and her vicious mother-in-law escalates daily. Anna's unique family home sits on a picturesque coastal tributary and is filled with years of memories. For the first time since childhood, Anna embraces her native heritage and river roots. But Anna soon learns that more than just her past resides along the banks of the Siuslaw River. By transforming her old family home into The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna hopes to create a place of healing—a place where guests experience peace, grace, and new beginnings. Starting with her own family . . .

There comes a time when even your most favorite author writes a book you just don't like. As most of you know, I adore Melody Carlson's books and have so for years. However this book and I were like oil and water. We just were not going to mix at all together. From reading other reviews, it appears that I am the only person who feels this way but I can't help it. The story, I felt, could have been very interesting. The book takes place during the late 1950s/early 1960s. Anna is part Native American and has faced racism her entire life. She moves back to her hometown to start a new life near the lake side. I was interested in life in the small town and Anna's idea of opening up an inn. However, most of the story just did not gel with me.

I disliked Anna's character very much. I found her to be a doormat who can't stand up for herself. The whole situation with her mother in law drove me nuts. I think what bothered me the most is that Anna just let herself be taken advantage of. She never tried to defend herself or break out of the cycle. Now her own daughter doesn't have much respect for her. Even after she finally finds her voice, she's still not very strong. I just really dislike characters who keep relying on others and don't have faith in themselves.

I also couldn't stand her mother in law. I'm sorry but Eunice is a bitch, plain and simple. There is no other way to describe this viscous, prejudiced, evil woman who took advantage of Anna and then tried to ruin her life. Unfortunately we never learn why she is like this or what causes her behavior. That is disappointing because it makes her one dimensional. It's actually a bit annoying that one has to wait for the next book to discover more about her.

This book has none of the edginess, deep thinking or stellar writing that usually comes with a Carlson novel. It feels very safe and extremely Christian fiction. It reads like one of her older romance novels and it almost makes me wonder if this was an old manuscript that was revised. The entire time I was reading this book, I just kept cringing at how preachy it was and how stereotypical Christian Anna and the people surrounding her are. Also even though this book takes place in the 60s, people do not act like they are in the time period and pop culture references seem like they were force added in. There may be some people who like this type of book but it's not for me. I adore Melody's books so I'm hoping that this is just a small blip that I can forget about and move on with other good stories.

River's Song by Melody Carlson is published by Abingdon Press (2011)

This review copy was provided for a blog tour with Glass Roads PR


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