Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What we're reading: A ghost story, a love story

Meet Me At the River, by Nina de Gramont, is told from two viewpoints, that of Tressa, trying to cope with the death of her boyfriend, and Luke, the boy who is dead but can't leave. I don't want to say too much about it, because I so much enjoyed discovering the facts of the story in exactly the way the author wanted me to, which was not immediately, not all in a paragraph of explanation, but gradually, through the interchanges, the thoughts, the scenes, that I'd like other readers to have that experience.

This book is more than either a ghost story or a sad love story. It is as deep and intense as the river in its title, and I love the involvement of so many people and what each of them brings to it. The part about Tressa's mother reminded me of Where the Stars Still Shine, by Trisha Doller, and although Tressa wasn't damaged in quite the same way by her mother's odyssey of wandering with Tressa, the theme brought a similar contrast to the plot of the things that happen when you stay put vs. when you are always on the move, playing into Tressa's reluctance to move an inch from where she was when Luke died.

I wonder if de Gramont had an ulterior, underlying motive for calling the book Meet Me at the River. It does come directly from a scene in the book, but I found myself humming while I was reading, and finally figured out that the song playing in my head in response to this book was the hymn "Shall We Gather At the River?" by Robert Lowry, a song they sang at funerals in my childhood, a song laden with images of crossing over, being with loved ones. So much of this book is about death, but so much about life, too.

The writing is beautiful. This quote, when Tressa says goodbye to Carlo:

It seems so unfair, how hard life is, just getting through every day. It's hard enough without these endless goodbyes. Every sixteen hours or so we living have to close our eyes all night long, just so we can recover.
And others I would share but that, again, I don't want to spoil the read. If you loved A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb, this book has the same intensity, the same sensibility. Beautifully done.


No comments:

Post a Comment