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Ricochet River

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  356 ratings  ·  63 reviews
It’s 1960. In a small logging town called Calamus that’s about as far in the middle of nowhere as you can get, Wade Curren, star of the high school baseball and football teams, is content living out his role of local hero, holding court in the corner booth of the town diner where his girlfriend Lorna waits tables.

Lorna, working to support her family, is plotting her esca
Kindle Edition, 25th Anniversary Edition, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2017 by Ooligan Press (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
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Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All ages of people
Shelves: favorites
I love this book and the development of nature and nurture in this Oregon based fiction. I felt as if I knew these people, drove thru their town, tasted their tears.
I was happy to read this story aloud to my family in a car trip when my Boys were 10 and 13 they fussed at first than begged me to continue as we drove on vacation.
Robin Cook may never write another books as successful as this one but as Harper Lee once pointed out when asked why she did not write more, she answers something l
Kento Ikeda
Growing up in Oregon, I was always aware of how older generations had knowledge that not only I did not have, but that I was unlikely to grow up to have. Knowledge of local flora and fauna, the lay of the land, and a sense for local history that goes beyond knowledge of the sequence of events and their relations. So it's this angle of Ricochet River that I'm most sensitive to, the fear that modernization (I should pick a better word, as modernization implies inevitability, that there is but a si ...more
Sarah H
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I bought this book while traveling in Oregon. It breaks my black authors streak, but I was looking for a book set in Oregon by an Oregonian author, and this coming of age story fit the bill. I started reading the book on the plane on the way home, but then chaos ensued.

For some reason I read the preface, which I normally never do. From the preface, I learned some startling facts about the book's publication history. It was originally published in 1992. The subsequent paper back editi
Pam Wells
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll say this up front: I love this book. It surprised me how much I love this book. It's set in 1960 (not an era I'd normally turn to for my fiction) in a small town in Oregon—the fictional town of Calamus, we're told, but it's fixed in the real forest east of Portland near the Clackamas and Columbia Rivers. It's fixed in the real history, too, of the Pacific Northwest, with the decline of logging as a way of life, the effects of river dams on salmon and the Indians who fished for them, and the ...more
Gloria Mulvihill
The foundation of this book is the traditional coming-of-age story with the jock, the pretty girl, and a token Native American boy named Jesse. Throw in the trials of high school life against a small-town setting complete with woods, a lake, and next-to-nothing to do and you have the backdrop for Ricochet River. The characters lack depth and instead seem to fall all-too-easily into the tropes that could be expected of a traditional YA book. Along with the appalling treatment of Jesse, Lorna’s sn ...more
Aug 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, oregon-pnw
robin cody's ricochet river generated some mild controversy earlier last decade when some parents of a local school district attempted to have the book banned (on the spurious claims of age-inappropriate sexual themes & profanity). like many banned and censored works, ricochet river is a coming-of-age tale that narrates the requisite emotional awakening and sexual maturing of its teenage characters. set in 1960's calamus, a fictional oregon logging town near portland, the story follows three friends y ...more
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pnw-lit
A charming, if slightly diffuse, coming of age story set on the Clackamas River in 1960s Oregon logging country. The writing is wonderful. It's like the YA version of David James Duncan's The River Why and the 20th century version of Huckleberry Finn. Some reviewers seem to take issue with representation and tokenism, particularly of Jesse Howl, the American Indian character. I don't disagree. It does seem problematic to be too accepting of portrayals of the colonized (along with all their impli ...more
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ricochet River is a character study from the point of view of golden-boy Wade Cullen, a senior in high school in fictional Calamus, Oregon, from a privileged family. Through Wade's young, rule-following eyes, we see the struggles of two outsiders: his restless girlfriend, Lorna, and their friend, Jesse, an American Indian who has the nerve to be himself in a community who refuses to accept him. Both Jesse and Lorna are more talented than Wade in their own ways, but Wade sees their marginalizatio ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a relatively new resident of Oregon, I hunger for books that give me insights into the state, and while I appreciated the coming-of-age story in Ricochet River, the aspect of the novel that stood out most for me was its powerful and often heartbreaking representation of the evolving physical and cultural landscape of the state.

The story is set in a small, fading mill town called Calamus, a fictionalization of Estacada, where author Robin Cody grew up. Driving through towns like th
Jeremy Hickerson
Amazing and great story of life in a fictional small logging town near Oregon City, featuring Native American culture and the migration cycle of salmon.

Read this book.

I heard an interview w/ author Robin Cody on the radio recently. He told how he tried for 15 years to publish the story, until it finally got picked up. He had improved it a lot by that point. It is now in high school reading curriculum.

High-schooler Wade Curren's life is disrupted when Jesse How
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, literature
What is the term for when you don't want a book to end? That is what I felt here. Set in Oregon, with well-drawn, likable characters, Cody tells a beguiling coming-of-age story that touches on racism, prejudice, the destruction of the salmon fishery and the Indians who fished them, the pointlessness of life on the reservation and restrictiveness of a small town, and, above all, the power of friendship. Each chapter begins with Wade Curren's (the narrator) keen observations of nature: salmon, the ...more
Ari Mathae
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a lifelong Oregonian, this book hit me close to home. Cody really captured something specific about small, rural towns in this state. There's a particular way of doing things, and the people who don't really fit in struggle the most and face a lot of discrimination.

With the narrator's voice being the town's star athlete, a young white boy on the edge of the rest of his life, it's difficult sometimes to see where the dark stereotyping of the town ends and the commentary on it begins. The book
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robin Cody's Ricochet River serves as stunning representation of what it means to be a teenager. Each character's struggles to come of age in a Pacific Northwest small town are unique but equally poignant, and I found myself most connected to Lorna as she navigated her identity so authentically, struggling to balance love, family, friendship, school, and connection to home and roots. This anniversary edition through Ooligan Press challenges censorship and what it means to most authentically represent ...more
Sadie Rose Verville (aroseforbooks)
This book surprised me. From the start, it was really quality writing, and the plot was fairly interesting. But the more I got into it, the more I got the sense of it being something bigger than itself. It gave me the same kind of feelings as The Outsiders, with the 50's-60's era teens just trying to survive high school and societal expectations. While these kids are stuck in a way-back town in a very typical high school setting, you start to get the sense that even with all the clicks and group ...more
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Why do I get the sense that I'm reading a high school text book? Well, for starters, the 25th edition proudly proclaims that the new edition is "suitable for use in high schools". Then there is the advertisement in the back of the book for the author's "in-depth Discussion Guide" that has questions such as, " What is the literary purpose of the short chapter lead-ins?" I was starting to think that every literary device in the book existed just to be explained to high school writing students! Eve ...more
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I think the best thing about this book is that it really captures the small town feel or rural Oregon. It felt familiar and real. Growing up in a town, definitely not as small as this, I kept nodding my head with the realization that yes, yes this is exactly what it's like.

My struggle, which I realize has everything to do with my growing and learning politically and socially the last few years, is the date in which it takes place. While I definitely realize 1960 to 2018 are vastly different and
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ricochet River is an interesting take on a coming-of-age novel. In many ways the narrative is specific in a way that I, as a native Oregonian, found poignant. However, reading the novel, you get the sense that author wrote from the perspective of the least compelling of the three main characters. Though the prose is beautiful, it often feels as though the book is unable to clearly separate its own commentary on prejudice from using language and representing attitudes that just simply are prejudi ...more
I've placed this book on my historical fiction shelf, because although it's "only" 50+ years ago, it covers an important time in the history of Oregon, and of our country: the building of dams that destroyed Native American homes, artifacts, and ways of life. From the very first page the reader knows that this is a story that cannot end well, but it grabs you and won't let go. The sex scenes have placed it on lists of banned books in high school libraries, and I just hope that means that a lot o ...more
Isaac Potter
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Isaac by: Joshua Tabshy
Ricochet River by Robin Cody is a book about a high school sports star from a small town in Oregon and about his friendship with a odd kid name Jesse and him trying to figure out his identity. Overall this was not a very interesting book although I am glad I read it because I learned a lot about life in small towns and a lot about nature as well and one reason that I did like this book is because it is set in Oregon. So if you really like nature or stories set in small towns this would be a good ...more
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Throughout the book, I kept waiting for something to actually happen. When Jesse takes his final stunt, I was a bit flabbergasted. (It hit close to home in a way I don't like to recall.)
The Oregon history tidbits were like an excerpt from a pamphlet handed out at the End of the Oregon Trail Museum.
Given this is a young adult book, I excuse much of the fluff.
I may recommend this to a teen who just moved to the state.
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading a "coming of age" novel set in the same era as when I "came of age!" (albeit across the country!) And I enjoyed reading a "local" novel, although I never could quite place where the fictional town of Calamas was located (west of Portland? east of Portland?). This is a great YA novel - and I can see why teachers like it for class discussions. That said, I look forward to my book group's discussion next week.
Rod Endacott
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could relate and the ending was very sad. The demise of anything native; so vulnerable in today's America. Robin Cody did an excellent job portraying a young native man's spirit. . . . how precious the dreamer.
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful, challenging, powerful coming-of-age story set in a 1960's mill town in Oregon. This 25th Anniversary edition is prefaced by Molly Gloss, Brian Doyle, William Sullivan and Diana Abu-Jaber. Can't get better than that for recommendations.
Louise Fullerton
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group
This captures an older Oregon, when log trucks were a common sight. It’s sad, too, and beautifully written.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: northwest
This story of three teenagers in a small Oregon town has interesting characters and a strong sense of place. If you need a lot of plot this one may not be for you, but I really enjoyed it.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very fine coming of age story with the northwest/columbia river landscape a strong character.
Jasmine Gower
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the 25th Anniversary Edition of Ricochet River, so I feel it’s important to note that this is my first time reading Ricochet River. That said, the new content added to the 25th Anniversary Edition--the foreword and reflections on Ricochet River’s 25-year history--were a little lost on me. Going into the book without any knowledge of how the plot plays out, these reflections drew comparisons and made references that I didn’t really have the context to understand, so this supplementary mate ...more
Kristin M.
The first half of Richochet River was plodding and meandering. More than once, I came close to giving up on the book altogether. Then, halfway through, Ricochet River finally found its groove—the writing became smoother, the pace picked up, and the plot figured out what direction it was going. Though the second half was better, my overall impression of this book is lukewarm—it managed to save itself from a poor rating, but didn’t warrant an excellent rating either.

Many other people h
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Oregonians, esp. little b
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Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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An Oregon native, Robin Cody is the author of Ricochet River and Voyage of a Summer Sun, both of which appear on the Oregon State Library's "150 Oregon Books for the Oregon Sesquicentennial" list. Voyage of a Summer Sun won the Oregon Book Award for literary nonfiction. Cody has worked as an English teacher, a dean of college admissions, a baseball umpire, and a school bus driver. He lives in Portland.
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