book beginnings on Friday: Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Thanks to Katy at A Few More Pages for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

Everyone’s been talking about this one for the last several months, and I knew I wanted to read it. The idea of a female Huck Finn (while threatening to prejudice my reading of the book…) was too much to resist. I’m glad I finally got around to it. Here is the beginning:

The Stark River flowed around the oxbow at Murrayville the way blood flowed through Margo Crane’s heart. She rowed upstream to see wood ducks, canvasbacks, and ospreys and to search for tiger salamanders in the ferns. She drifted downstream to find painted turtles sunning on fallen trees and to count the herons in the heronry beside the Murrayville cemetery.

That first sentence is something special, isn’t it? It really captures one of the main themes of the book: that for Margo, the river is LIFE.

I’m enjoying this book very much, and moving through it quickly; you can expect a review in the next few days. For now I’ll say this: it’s beautiful and moving, but also stark and disturbing. Bad things happen. I wasn’t quite prepared for this, although I suppose it’s in keeping with the Huck Finn allegory – his story, too, had its disturbing moments, despite the seeming calm of coming-of-age-on-the-river.

3 Responses

  1. I love Huck Finn and enjoyed pretending to have those adventures when I was a kid. This book sounds great!

    Thanks for sharing…and for visiting my blog.

  2. Lots of water-themed books this week–fishing and floating. Nice beginning.

    Here’s my Friday memes: http://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/2011/10/friday-memes.html

  3. I like the description of the river habitat – it sets the scene, but I’m intrigued that there are disturbing elements in the novel.

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