River’s Song
By Melody Carlson
Published by Abingdon Press
ISBN# 978-1-4267-1266-1
286 Pages

Back Cover: Sometimes when we look back, we are able to see ahead

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.

For the first time since childhood, Anna embraces her native heritage, despite the disdain of her vicious mother-in-law. 

By transforming her old family home on the banks of the Siuslaw River 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 . . .

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that gave me a snap shot into the Larson Family through the maternal heritage.

This novel is told in first person through the main character named Anna; who wants to embrace her Indian Heritage. It’s a heritage her mom, Marian Larson wanted nothing to do with. Anna says, “My mother was 100% Indian from the Siuslaw Tribe, but she lived out her life as a white woman. Other than her skin you would not know about her heritage.”

Anna’s mother passing has brought her to the home they had grown up in and her walks along the river helped her seek God’s will for her life.  She hadn’t been to the river in years. This was her family home. She learned so much about them as she cleaned it out. She reflects on the life she lived there with her parents and how much she didn’t know.

Anna runs into an interesting lady on one of her walks, named Hazel. She’s a woman fascinated by the local Indian population who lived near the river. Hazel is an anthropologist doing her doctoral thesis on the Indians heritage. Anna begins to share what she knows and they become fast friends. She encourages Anna to follower her dream of making her parents store into a Bed and Breakfast.

Anna loves sharing the stories she learned from her Grandma Pearl. There was a reason she was named that. “Her grandma was similar to a red pearl. Anna’s grandmother’s early life had been full of hardships, just like the rough sand that sneaks into an oyster, irritating and rubbing against it. But like an oyster pearl, her grandmother had been polished smooth by her challenges. Anna had never known a sweeter, kinder, more generous soul than her grandmother. She had been a pearl. She would name her grandmother’s house “Pearl’s Oyster Shell.” When she opened her Inn.

Hazel said, “Many Indians went the same route as your mom Anna…I don’t blame them a bit. In fact, I blame the white man…Most Indians were robbed of their language, their art, their culture, their families, their dignity…even their lives in many cases-“

The year is 1957 and Anna gained a new appreciation for her mom and her grandmother through talking with Hazel and uncovering some interesting things in her parents’ house and store. One of the themes running naturally through this book is one of forgiveness.

Hazel’s son, Clark says to Anna, “I’ve learned from experience that when you withhold forgiveness from someone it puts you into a kind of bondage with them. It’s like they own a piece of your soul if you remain bitter. “Clark continues, “The truth is it’s kind of a process with me. I find I have to forgive this person again and again. But, hopefully, in time, I’ll get beyond it all together.”

This was a story of relationships, healing, hope, forgiveness and how you can enjoy freedom in Christ yourself and with others! This book is rich in Native American history and stories told by their people mixed with American historical events that happened in the late 50’s early 60’s. Blend in some life lessons and a splash of romance all mixed together for a great and memorable read. It makes an interesting book club pick too. This is the first book in the Inn at Shinning Waters Inn series’ that chronicles the maternal line of the Larson woman starting with Anna’s great grandmother down to her grandchildren. I highly recommend this book and the series. It will touch your heart and have you glued to the pages as this saga unfolds. I highly recommend it to be put on your book club reading list too!

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
Book Fun Magazine
The Book Club Network blog


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