Tuesday, October 4, 2016
About the Book
It wasn’t all poodle skirts and rock ‘n’ roll. From its deceptively innocent beginning—two young teens exploring the riverbank and spying on “Crazy Haggerty’s” dilapidated house—through the intertwining story lines of paganism, murder and sexual violence, Stony River shows how perilous life was for some girls in the 1950s. Absent mothers, controlling fathers, biblical injunctions, teenage longing and small-town pretense abound. The threat of violence is all around: angry fathers at home, dirty boys in the neighborhood, strange men in strange cars, a dead girl and another gone missing.
The central mystery, inspired by the crimes of Robert Zarinsky as documented by Robin Gaby Fisher and Judith Lucas in Deadly Secrets (Newark Star–Ledger 2008), keeps the reader guessing until almost the very end, when the frightening truth is revealed. In this coming-of-age mystery, three girls learn who they are and what they’re capable of surviving—and forgiving.
This is a thought-provoking book. It's dark, disturbing at times, but the way it's crafted is a marvel to behold. The author knows what she's doing. She paints a picture with words, instead of jamming a bunch of random, meaningless details down a reader's throat. In essence, she shows what it was like to be a female adolescent in the late 1950s.
The social rules of engagement are implied, but never fully spelled out. A girl is to supposed to somehow intuit them as she goes along. For example, a popular girl only befriends a chubby classmate, so that all the boys will look at her, and not at her friend. While it's expected for a girl to always say yes when a boy asks her to dance, whether she wants to or not.
But these little courtesies and schoolyard dramas, quickly cross into dangerous territory when these young, impressionable girls come to believe they need to bend over backward—and do whatever it takes—to look good in a man's eyes. Forget common sense. Throw gut instinct out the window. As one by one they start to go missing, before one eventually turns up dead.
The adults in the novel always seem to avert their eyes to tragedy, until it's too late. A young girl is molested and gives birth to her father's baby, and no one wants to talk about it. Another is beaten with the belt of her stepfather, but everyone pretends not to notice. No one wants to get involved in anyone else's problems. As far as "the grown-ups" are concerned, what happens behind closed doors, stays behind closed doors.
But there comes a tipping point when the voices of these girls won't be silenced any longer. When their supposed innocence gives way to the disturbing realities of life, their ideas, about what the world is really like, begin to change. They realize they've been fed a line of bull. And maybe, just maybe, that's a good thing. After battling through a whole host of issues, they become survivors, no longer ignorant to the truth and the harshness of life, and how poorly they've been protected from it.
Stony River can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble
Prices/Formats: $10.99 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Crime, Historical, Coming of Age
Release: October 6, 2016
Publisher: Leapfrog Press
Click to add to your Goodreads list.
About the Author
Tricia Dower confesses to smoking a river punk or two in Rahway, New Jersey, where she was born and raised by perfectly fine parents who did not keep her hidden in a spooky house. A graduate of Gettysburg College and a Phi Mu, she built a career in business before reinventing herself as a writer in 2002. Her literary work has crossed borders and won awards. She expanded a story from her Shakespeare-inspired collection, Silent Girl (Inanna 2008) into Stony River, which was first published in Canada (Penguin, 2012). Her novel, Becoming Lin (Caitlin Press), was released in Canada in 2016. A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, Dower lives and writes in Brentwood Bay, BC.
Links to connect with Tricia:
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Posted by Carol Robart at 12:01 AM