March 26, 2012

River's Call by Melody Carlson

Last summer I enjoyed reviewing River's Song by Melody Carlson, so I was glad to have the opportunity to review the sequel, River's Call. The The Inn at Shining Waters series began when Anna returned to her family home on the Siuslaw River and got in touch with her Native American roots, began converting the home to an inn, and met and married her husband, Clark. She had to contend with a controlling ex-mother-in-law and a spoiled teenaged daughter while finding herself again after years of mistreatment.

River's Call finds us back at the inn with Anna and Clark, right where River's Song left off. This time Anna's daughter Lauren is pregnant, and Anna wants to help her make good choices. But Lauren is still spoiled, and ex-mother-in-law Eunice is still attempting to rule the family with an iron fist. While River's Song covered only a few months of Anna's life with a bit of backstory, River's Call covers nearly two decades while Lauren's daughter Sarah grows up. Lauren continues to behave like a spoiled teenager, unable to care for her child without a nanny and housekeeper at her beck and call. She turns to alcohol and prescription drugs to battle her depression. Sarah is a smart and mature girl left to her own devices for the most part, spending summers at the inn with her grandmother. As Eunice ages, she begins to question the way she has treated the people around her and craves forgiveness. And Lauren must make the ultimate decision to continue on her destructive path or to answer the call of the river.

I did not find this book as enjoyable as its prequel. The things I enjoyed most about River's Song were almost completely absent in River's Call. As it rushes through the sixties and seventies the reader is left feeling displaced in time, whereas in River's Song one is comfortably settled into the fashion, language, and society of the fifties. Anna is no longer relatable, and her personality is non-existent; she's become a cookie-cutter perfect person, as has Clark. Clarkson seems to have stepped back to allow Lauren take center stage, but most everything the reader learns of her is learned secondhand from the other characters.

Overall this is a bland read, but it was nice to follow up and learn what was next in store for Anna's family. The ending promised more drama in the book to come, but to say more would spoil it.

I was given a copy of this book for he purpose of review.

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