This work is the kind of read you take in a single fell swoop. The narrative propels you forward with such a force it feels unnatural to go against the intensity and let up. The anxiety Sam experiences is palpable. His thoughts and actions are urgent and conflicted. The narrative is fierce like a current. At times it feels as if you’re being pulled under with Sam, and you cannot let the air out until he can.
The Rock and the River is and exceptional debut by a writer who demonstrates a skill that belies the markers of a first novel. This is not gratuitous praise. Her style does not waver; it is brilliantly clear. To write well requires skill and talent. It requires a keen awareness of what taps the pulse of the reader. I have read that teen fiction is appealing because it get to the point, it is plot-driven. I believe the best of literature uses plot to support the examination of character. In literature, the appeal is the exploration of personal transformation and a social critique. It offers three dimensional characters who are changed or fail to change. An author succeeds when she can balance plot and character development with acute sensitivity to her audience’s sensibilities. Kekla Magoon accomplishes that. She provides the context for the reader to wrestle with his own concerns and the space to draw his own conclusions.
You know a work is a fine read when you feel enriched by the experience. You need downtime to let the novel settle into your consciousness. To pick up another book immediately strikes you as irreverent. I encourage you to read The Rock and The River. Afterwards, let me know if you don’t feel the urge to meditate.