David's Reviews > By the River

By the River by Steven Herrick
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M 50x66
's review
Jul 19, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: children-and-or-young-adult-books, summer-2012-childrens-ya

Steven Herrick may be my best find this summer. His poetry is generally stunning, and he uses it to create rich characters. After reading one of his books I feel like I have a little more of a grasp of the areas in Australia he writes about. He can find extraordinary beauty in yard junk, swamps, and land baked by suffocating heat.

"By the River" doesn't quite tell an actual story- in fact, the only downside of the book for me is that it remains a little too ambiguous. I love ambiguity and mystery in a novel, but this time I felt I could have used a little more information at the end. I think I understand most of the secrets revealed in the story, but I'm not totally sure.

This may very well be what Herrick intended. The book is shrouded in mystery and shifts back and forth in time and has a bit of a "haze" over the whole affair. Harry is a thoughtful narrator, and the use of poems in the story allows the author to deiberately reveal information about Harry, his dad, his brother, his friends, and the mysterious death of his friend Linda, at his own careful pace.

Readers who need straight-forward narratives with all answers revealed and spelled out may be frustrated with "By the River." But even if the story strands are left dangling, it is worth reading for Herrick's beautiful free verse and his look inside the heart of a teenage boy.

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