Genre: Historical fiction
Elise was a young girl when her father sent her off to live with distant relatives at the start of World War II. Now, she's a German living in America. She struggles to fit in and ignore the prejudice of everyday life, while trying to understand why her father abandoned her. But Elise could never have imagined the horrors that this war would bring, both on the world and on her, a misunderstood refugee.I do enjoy a good historical fiction now and then, and had no problems picking up River's Edge from the library with no previous influence. One thing that worried me, though was this. From personal experience, I did notice that most World War I or II stories that I've read are relatively similar in plot and in themes. And while River's Edge wasn't revolutionary or mind-blowing, I still enjoyed it despite some flaws that stuck with me.
One thing I certainly didn't anticipate was the strong religiousness of the book. The main characters are very religious, and the book constantly revolves around it and somehow ties everything back to faith. I am not religious myself, so I could not relate to/understand this at all. Actually, I found it a bit irritating when things like "...a miracle of creation" and "I just know that God exists and that He is good" were said. Now, don't get me wrong - I have absolutely no problem with religion. Why should I? But as someone who does not believe in it, how am I supposed to appreciate it?
If you checked out my Teaser Tuesday from River's Edge, you'd know that this book does contain some beautiful imagery! But, as usual, nothing is perfect. At times it felt like Bostwick tried a bit too hard to be descriptive, and over-analyzed situations to the point where it was tedious to read. Unfortunately, certain parts of the dialogue came across as cheesy to me and simply didn't work. I'm talking about things like "The food is pretty bad here, but after a day of running and marching with a full pack, I'll eat anything! Write me soon. I love, love, love you!" Believe it or not, that was supposed to be written by a big, teenage boy. Likely and believable? Not so.
Enough with the negatives, though! As I said before, River's Edge was an enjoyable book all in all. Even though the plot wasn't anything surprisingly new and amazing, it was still engaging and kept the pages turning on my part. The ending was happy (maybe a bit too happy and almost too perfect), but how can you not end that way when a big part of the book is religion and forgiveness?
Recommendation: River's Edge didn't have the impact and emotional power that some other war books have, but it was a decent read all together. If strong religious influences and (minor) flaws don't bother you, consider this book the next time you're at the library.