Thursday, March 22, 2012

Literary Bite: Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen

Growing up I always wanted to be a twin, only child, or orphan (sorry Mama and Dad) because according to all the books I’d ever read, they had the coolest adventures. However, considering the family situation (Sister1 and Sister2, neither of whom is my twin), the whole situation was always pretty unlikely…

I’ve since gotten over that wish, but apparently literature hasn’t. Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen combines two of these adventure-guaranteeing characteristics: the book tells the story of twin 11-year-olds in Virginia in 1969, searching for their lost mother.

The main character, Shenny, is pretty awesome – she’s spunky and brave but also poignantly childish. The book begins near the anniversary of her mother’s disappearance and follows Shenny and her silent twin, Woody, as they try to piece together what happened to their family. Depending on your sympathies, this book might be a tear-jerker (it wasn’t for me).

The story was fast-paced and enjoyable. It read like young adult fiction (i.e. a plot-driven adventure/mystery) but with real adult themes (race and domestic violence). Tomorrow River isn’t a must-read, but if you happen to pick it up I doubt you’ll regret it. 

(And through looking at Lesley Kagen's website, all of her books include a twin/orphan situation of some sort. Why fix what isn't broke, right?) 

For more on Tomorrow River, you can listen to an excerpt online (MP3) and download discussion questions (PDF).