Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Knife River

Knife River by Justine Champine
5/28/24; 368 pages
Random House

Knife River by Justine Champine is a recommended slow moving, literary family drama and character study following two sisters and their grief over their mother's disappearance.

Bones have been found fifteen years after Natalie Fairchild went missing. Jess was 13 and her older sister Liz was 19 when their mother disappeared, leaving Liz to care for Jess and both girls grief stricken. The two were semi-estranged until Liz called Jess to let her know that the bones are their mother's remains. Jess immediately leaves her current girlfriend and travel back to Knife river and her childhood home where Liz still lives. The home is eerily the same, frozen in time. Jess is determined to stay in knife River until the sisters get some kind of answer.

This is much more a literary novel and depressing character study of two sisters who experienced trauma and grief and how the loss of their mother effected their lives. The family drama is in the retelling of the sisters trying to process their grief immediately after their mother disappeared and later, after her bones were found. It is a very slow moving novel that carefully examines past memories, secrets, and relationships. The lack of a real investigation by police adds to the sister's frustration.

This is Champine's debut novel and the writing is quite good, both atmospheric and descriptive. The portrayal of grief and the effects of it one both sisters is well done. On the other hand, the pace is glacially slow and left such a feeling of hopelessness and despair while reading. This is a talent to watch. Thanks to Random House for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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