Monday, September 7, 2015

Above the Waterfall

Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash
HarperCollins: 9/8/15
eBook review copy; 272 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062417015

Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash is a very highly recommended novel set in a small Appalachian town about two lonely people struggling to live with their haunted pasts. It is an eloquently written, poetic novel that is both a tribute to the healing power of nature and a mystery.

Becky is a park ranger at Locust Creek Park who finds solace in the beauty of the North Carolina mountains. Becky carries many scars from her childhood when she survived a school shooting, and in her recent past when she believed in the wrong man. She finds comfort and peace in nature and needs the natural world to survive. She references heavily the Victorian poet Gerard   Manley Hopkins who found beauty in nature as well as the cave paintings of Lascaux.

Les is a sheriff on the verge of retirement. He is having a cabin built where he plans to retire and paint. He just has a few things to clear up before he goes, like another meth bust (and you never know how things can go wrong with meth-heads) and the truth behind the tension between Gerald Blackwelder, an irascible old farmer, and a new fishing resort. Les has some regrets in his past too that he is trying to deal with, as well as a debt that has never been repaid.

The novel alternates between the voices of Les and Becky. They are both wounded souls who take strength from observing and being in nature. They are also close friends and are able to speak about their past with each other. They seemingly want to have a closer relationship with each other, and have taken steps in that direction, but they are still reticent to make any real commitment.

While both voices propel the story forward, Becky's chapters are poetic and lyrical while Les's are written in a more traditional manner. The frank descriptions of meth addiction are brutal. Both Les and Becky have to "navigate currents of disillusionment and betrayal that will force them to question themselves and test their tentative bond..." when dealing with the dispute between the fishing resort and Gerald. Becky is a staunch supporter of Gerald and perhaps his only friend now. Les was friends with an employee for the fishing resort and, as a longtime resident of the town, he knows all the people involved, their past actions, and where to look for answers.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins for review purposes.

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