Y's Reviews > The River Between Us

The River Between Us by Richard Peck
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Dec 28, 2014

it was ok
bookshelves: audiobook, children, historical-fiction, setting-usa-il, drama, family
Read from September 20 to 21, 2011

** spoiler alert ** The problem I have with this book lies mainly with the mother. The first half of the book is fine; I like the slice-of-life storyline that shows how life for Tilly and her family change when Delphine and Calinda come to live with them.

Then Peck is like, but wait, I have this book taking place during the Civil War, therefore we need to cram in the nasty side of war for part of this book! This wouldn't have been so bad if the two halves were melded together more subtly. Instead, the calmer side and the nasty side just get slapped together, with a very unpleasant destruction of character to act as the glue.

Tilly's mother is shown as being fearful of her son wanting to join the Union here and there, but she's also shown as being something of a strong woman who will speak her mind if need be and has her own ideas about things. Yet, when Noah leaves, Mama just kind of...loses all mental stability in order to be a complete jerkass to Tilly so that she can go search for her brother and kick off the "nasty war" side of the book. Doesn't help that she later on commits suicide. It's just too forced. Yes, I'm not particularly learned in psychiatry, so someone who seems quite stable like Mama just..."losing it" completely over her son going to war may be more than possible. Mind you, I'm not just talking something tragic causing strain upon the family; Mama Pruitt goes pretty much legitimately crazy due to it. But that's the thing; while such a thing may very well have real life examples, in a book, where the author can control everything about how characters act, again, it all just seems far too forced, especially since Peck had previously built up Mama to seem mentally capable of dealing with something like this.

Not a top-rate bit of writing, in my book.
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