Friday, September 14, 2012

The River

The River by Michael Neale
Thomas Nelson, 9/18/2012
Paperback, 320 pages
ISBN-13: 9781401688486

“You were made for The River . . .”
Gabriel Clarke is mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. The rushing waters beckon him to experience freedom and adventure.
But something holds him back—the memory of the terrible event he witnessed on The River when he was just five years old—something no child should ever see.
Chains of fear and resentment imprison Gabriel, keeping him from discovering the treasures of The River. He remains trapped, afraid to take hold of the life awaiting him.
When he returns to The River after years away, his heart knows he is finally home. His destiny is within reach. Claiming that destiny will be the hardest—and bravest—thing he has ever done.

My Thoughts:
The River by Michael Neale recounts the story of Gabriel Clarke, the son of a Colorado whitewater rapids guide, John. When Gabriel's father dies saving the life of a careless young man, Gabriel goes to live with his mother in Kansas and tries to avoid any thoughts of The River. But, after years pass, Gabriel hears the call of The River in his life again and eventually returns to The River in Colorado.
The River is a novel of timeless themes: love, loss, sacrifice, family, beauty, and, ultimately, forgiveness and redemption. In this inspirational narrative, The River is symbolic of God's call on a Christian's life to forgive and step forward with courage and conviction, as well as other metaphorical significance. This is a book you can read quickly and it will keep your interest.
Be sure to check out Neale's website for the book trailer and a short clip showcasing the live event. Neale is an award-winning musician and performer who composed the score for the HD film footage in the live show. After watching the clip, I have a feeling the live show would be a great multi-media experience.
I also have a feeling that the whole multi-media experience might be, in totality, more moving and riveting than the book. While the book was heartening and certainly affirmed enduring lessons, the constant references to "The River" always capitalized and named only in that way became a bit distracting. I think a case could still be made to compare God to an unnamed river without making it The River.
Highly Recommended
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Thomas Nelson, the publisher, and Netgalley for review purposes.


From an entry in a Journal:
I love coming to The River. The River is magical. It's full of wonder and mystery. For thousands of years, The River has been carving its way through the Earth. As the water pours over the landscape, crashes against the banks, and cascades over the rocks, everything changes in its path. The terrain, the trees, even the wildlife-everything is shaped by The River. Everything in the canyon is at the mercy of The River. The River is wild, free, and untamable. It's foaming, twisting, and thundering. Location 49-53

Every now and then, you have an encounter with someone who simply changes your life. A conversation or interaction so profound, it seems otherworldly. You can’t get his (or her) story out of your head and heart. It’s hard to explain how powerful stories can resonate within us on many levels, but it’s often because of the way they speak with passion, heartache, or even joy. Maybe it’s the way they unknowingly reach into our heart of hearts with their words. I don’t think these encounters happen by chance. I think there is a reason, although we will never understand the full weaving of life’s tapestry of events this side of the eternal. I have had such an encounter with someone. It moved me to my core, so much so that I had to share it with you. I’ll keep sharing it as long as I have breath. For the next few pages, I’d like you to grab a cup of coffee—or a root beer float—and sit down and let me tell you about a conversation I had with a man named Gabriel Clarke. Location 76-83

“Daddy! They made it out! You can come back now!” He shifted his focus downstream, where the man was caring for the kayaker. Maybe his father was swimming and would show up down there. But he never did. His dad never came back. His father was gone. His hero just disappeared. No more games of marbles. No goodbyes. No hugs. Just gone. Location 248-251

 “We’re okay,” Maggie replied. “Thank you, though.”
There was a bit of an awkward pause until Miss Vonda asked tenderly, “Is he in his secret place today?”
Maggie couldn’t hold it in any longer and began to weep. “I don’t know what to do! I just want my boy to get better, you know? He’s having those terrible dreams again. He barely says two words on the hard days. I just want him to be a regular boy. I want him to live! I’m not sure I can take much more.”
“There, there, Maggie. Tomorrow will be a better day. Let me help you with your dishes.” Location 282-286

He’d been living with his mother for almost four years since The River took his dad. Before the accident, Maggie only saw him at holiday times when John brought him to see her. Location 292-293

“Are you an idiot?” Dickie asked. “You almost killed him! Why are you even here?” As Dickie turned and started walking away, he mumbled to J.J., “That kid is worthless.”
 “Shut up, Dickie!” General J.J. growled at him. He turned to Gabriel and patted his shoulder. “It’s okay, man. It wasn’t your fault.”
Gabriel knew otherwise. Henry had almost died trying to help him, and Gabriel was filled with shame. His first real effort to conquer his fear and connect with the boys of Cairo was a disaster. They wouldn’t be seeing him again at the pond. It was safer to stick close to home— in his secret place. There was no way he could take a chance on hurting anyone else. He was angry at the water. He was angry with himself. Better, though, to keep everything to himself. Risk was not an option anymore. Location 422-427

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

Metaphor? Or pantheism? ;-)