Review: Stony River – Tricia Dower
A resident of Stony River for as long as she can remember, Linda Wise knows there’s nothing to fear. Stony River has always been a calm place where everyone knows each others names and everything they’ve done throughout their lives. Life in town is nothing but ordinary, however. Until Crazy Haggerty’s secrets start coming to light. It’s then life starts to change for all of Stony River’s residents.
A coming-of-age story, Stony River immerses the reader in a diverse tale surrounding several of the town’s inhabitants. We meet Linda, headstrong, yet reserved. There’s also Tereza, who’s outspoken and quite inquisitive. Miranda Haggerty is the most curious of these three girls. Her sheltered life has kept her from learning about the world around her. You can imagine her surprise and curiosity when her life is upended from one day to the next.
Tricia has written such a bittersweet, yet intriguing story that allows the reader to feel what her characters feel. It’s easy to envision the world she’s created around this unassuming town and the people who inhabit it. She’s painted such a clear picture of it that the reader feels like he/she is a part of the story itself.
The further you get into the book, the more the world Tricia has created opens up. I enjoyed seeing Miranda, Tereza, and Linda grow up along the way. These complex characters mesh in such a way that you end up seeing them become more than what they were at the beginning of the story. Their lives might seem quiet, at first, but the chaos that surrounds them becomes apparent with every turn of the page. You can honestly tell how much research and thought has gone into this book. Lovingly crafted, this is a story that will remain with you long after you’ve read it.
“It’s rare to find such a polished debut and Dower is a masterful storyteller to watch.” — the Globe and Mail.
“Think Mad Men but even madder.” — the Toronto Star
Stony River, New Jersey, 1955: On a sweltering June afternoon, Linda Wise and Tereza Dobra witness a disturbing scene. A pale, pretty girl who looks about their age is taken from Crazy Haggerty’s house by two uniformed policemen. Everyone in Stony River thought Crazy Haggerty lived alone. The pale, pretty girl is about to enter an alien world, and as Tereza and Linda try to make sense of what they’ve seen, they’re unaware their own lives will soon be shattered as well. Set in a decade we tend to think of as a more innocent time, Stony River shows in dramatic and unexpected ways how perilous it was to come of age in the 1950s with its absent mothers, controlling fathers, biblical injunctions, teenaged longing, and small-town pretence. The threat of sexual violence is all around: angry fathers at home, dirty boys in the neighbourhood, strange men in strange cars, a dead girl, and another gone missing.
An engrossing novel about growing up, finding your voice, and forgiving your family, Stony River is a brilliant story from a remarkable new Canadian voice.
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