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The River Between Us by Richard Peck
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Feb 23, 11

Read in April, 2010

The River Between Us by Richard Peck (2005) This story “begins” in 1916, with a doctor driving his teenage son and twin children to his Illinois hometown on the bank of the Mississippi River, and then shifts to 1861, as a young woman describes how her town is affected by the mounting dissent between the North and the South, and the arrival of a mysterious woman from New Orleans.

The narrative shift from the doctor’s teenage son to the female voice two generations prior is abrupt, but her story so compelling that the trip in the Model T is almost forgotten by the time the frame is returned to. Having experienced the Civil War’s effect on the family from a first-person perspective (and the revelation on page 157) makes the 1916 doctor’s decision to go to war much more powerful and personal, and links the Civil War not only to the first World War, but also to all wars. The character Delphine with her foreign (both to 1861 Grand Tower and to modern readers) manners remains consistently intriguing, as the reader tries to anticipate her true motivations.
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