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River Angel

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  328 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
In April, 1991, in a little Wisconsin town about 100 miles southwest of the town where I grew up, a misfit boy was kidnapped by a group of high school kids who, later would testify they only meant to frighten him, to drive him around for a while. Somehow they ended up in the river whooping and hollering on a two lane bridge. Somehow, the boy was shoved, he jumped, he slipp ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 18th 1998 by William Morrow (first published 1998)
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Manik Sukoco
Jan 01, 2016 Manik Sukoco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vinegar Hill by Manette Ansay was a best seller courtesy of Oprah's Book Club. It's a dark tale, set in a small town in America's midwest, where life is defined by rural decay and an avenging God.
River Angel has a similar feel about it. Life in Ambient is changed forever by the return of Shawn. Shawn is a bad boy, a man with a history of broken relationships, a man with wonderlust in his bones. When he turns up with his young son Gabriel on the family doorstep one Christmas Eve, his sister-in-la
Amanda Birdwell
Dec 01, 2009 Amanda Birdwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I understand that I'm three for three when it comes to Ansay's novels, and reviewing them as Among the Best Books Ever, but really. I actually shelved three other books that are due before this one out of an intense need to read every Ansay novel possible. This one was marginally harder to get into than the others -- I think, honestly, because it starts with the least sympathetic character, and one who then takes off and isn't seen again.

The difference between River Angel, which I loved,
Dec 03, 2015 Rachel rated it liked it
This was a well-written novel with some rather eclectic but well-drawn characters. I would classify the book as a coming-of-age novel, more-or-less, because even though a death takes places in it, it isn't a murder, so I wouldn't call it a real mystery or suspense novel. Regardless of its genre placement however, I would have to say that this is an interesting novel even though I found the story line to be a bit strange. This is more of a spiritual novel than a Christian one despite the fact tha ...more
Apr 13, 2014 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Friends who read my reviews here know it's rare for me to give a book five stars, but this one deserves every one of them!

I love books that raise huge religious questions and don't answer them, whose approach to the questions is ambiguous and contradictory. This book does that beautifully. Some of the questions are: Does God have a plan for our lives? What is the relationship between organized religion and personal faith? Is prayer effective? Do angels exist, and do we have guardian angels who p
Rather slow moving. A young boy, Gabriel, and his father travel across the country to the town of Ambient, where his father grew up. They arrive at his uncle's house and Gabriel meets his uncle and grandfather for the first time, together with his uncle's wife and her 2 sons. Returning from midnight service, Gabriel discovers that his father has left. It's Christmas Eve.

This book touches on faith, the faith of an individual, the faith in a community and how people wrestle with everyday life whil
Dec 23, 2008 Marguerite rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is about faith, of a conventional sort and a more supernatural variety. In A. Manette Ansay's tale, a mysterious death turns a town upside down and tests longtime relationships. Ansay's musings about faith are the best part:
"It is meaningless to hold the yardstick of fact against the complexities of the human heart. Reality simply isn't large enough to hold us. And so the sky becomes a gateway to the heavens. Death is not an end but a beginning."
"The greatest act of faith was learning
Mary Kinietz
Jul 18, 2014 Mary Kinietz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Novel based on an incident rumored to have happened to have happen about 100 miles from the author's hometown. She spins the story as it could have happened and each chapter is told from a different and each chapter is told from a different townperson's perspective. The story becomes the thread that ties together description of life in a small town and the people who live there as suburban sprawl creeps into this town and changes their lives.
Kristin Runyon
I definitely want to read more books by Mansay! This novel was more like a series of related short stories; I wasn't even sure how they were related until the 3rd or 4th one. The novel was inspired by true events, but every character is fictional. It's a very realistic novel, although a little grimly realistic. I probably baby liked irpt, in part, because it's not happily-ever-after.
May 15, 2014 ~mad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booksiveread
So good (again) that I am going to look for all other books by this author!
Melody Puller
Apr 08, 2014 Melody Puller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A. Manette Ansay is a Midwestern Flannery O'Connor.
May 14, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really enjoying this author.
Natalie McCulley
It was interesting to learn more about small mid-west towns of the US. Full of religion.
Sharlene Klegstad
Jan 23, 2016 Sharlene Klegstad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
thought provoking
Kate Thorson
Jun 13, 2013 Kate Thorson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religious
The book was a little hard to get into partly because each chapter has a different character narrating and partly because I did not like the first character. But a worthwhile read, the book moves in chronological order through the chapters coming closer to one event and slightly past the event. Not all characters are religious or come at religion in the same manner. Very easy to read one chapter and come back later. Overall I enjoyed the place the book took me.
Mar 02, 2012 Lenore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb for this book makes it sound like it focuses on a boy who drowns and the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. That is true, but the book is so much more than that. A series of vignettes, like beautifully detailed miniature portraits, describe the inhabitants of the small town of Ambient, Wisconsin. Old and young, all with secrets behind the friendly smiles -- each person has a fascinating story to tell. I loved this book.
Kathy Nelson
This novel was kind of hard to get into. We already know what is going to happen in terms of the action of the story. The shifting point of view, however, is interesting and shows us each character's interpretation of faith.
Based very loosely on a real event in Wisconsin. Story of a boy ridiculed by many and a vagrant with his dad. Is the boy killed by teens? Body found in barn but not in the river where he drowned? Disturbing.
Feb 28, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I have really liked all of her books that I've read. This one is interesting in that it thoughtfully shows many townspeople's conflicting views on a tragic event that has religious implications.
Apr 07, 2008 Marilyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We had the best Book Club discussion on this book because of all the symbolism. Ansay writes about some quirky subjects but she has such a beautiful way with words.
Jan 03, 2009 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
She thought about how she no longer remembered feelings so much as recalled what she had felt: She'd loved him, admired him, missed him. Valiant, empty words.
Apr 16, 2007 suzi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was...okay. The characters weren't very well fleshed out. I'll pass it along but I didn't love it.
Dana Smith Minor
Aug 08, 2011 Dana Smith Minor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written. Interesting. Different. I plan to read all of this author's books. She is good.
Apr 26, 2013 Wishni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good story about a small town, its people, and a kidnapping gone wrong..
Read this one long while back, but remember liking it a bunch.
Aug 05, 2010 Jan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some sad and wounded characters.
Mar 30, 2011 Janeene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5-3.0 stars
Jun 18, 2008 Megan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad read
Sandra Collins
Sandra Collins marked it as to-read
Jun 23, 2016
Bea marked it as to-read
Jun 22, 2016
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A. Manette Ansay grew up in Wisconsin among 67 cousins and over 200 second cousins. She is the author of six novels, including Good Things I Wish You (July, 2009), Vinegar Hill, an Oprah Book Club Selection, and Midnight Champagne, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as a short story collection, Read This and Tell Me What It Says, and a memoir, Limbo. Her awards include ...more
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