Saturday, August 18, 2007

Book #34 All Rivers Flow to the Sea by Alison McGhee

This book was an indirect recommendation from a new friend, Swati. One of last year's Mentor Series participants, I met her a few times but really Met her and talked with her during a novel writing weekend intensive we ended up in together.

I borrowed the book from her for an exercise we did and it looked so interesting I had to read it. I read it in an evening...pretty much swallowed it whole.

Rose is returning to school following a car accident she was involved in with her older sister, Ivy. Ivy is permanently brain dead, but she is still on life support. Rose visits her every day and reads to her, while she tries to readjust to life in and out of school with a mother who never visits Ivy and the stares and gossip of her classmates.

McGhee says, about writing the book, "The ending line from a poem by Louise Erdrich, 'Sister, there is nothing I would not do,' sliced its way into my heart when I first read it. A few years after that, my friend G.E. and I were walking along the banks of the Mississippi River. He made the comment that 'Some people are still water, and others are moving water.' This book is an alchemy born of those two lines, both of which have haunted me for years" (All Rivers Flow to the Sea, back cover).

This is a coming-of-age novel that works for all ages. Rose comes to terms with some of life's truths that many adults haven't had occasion to think about, and McGhee's writing style is so eloquent as to be nearly poetic throughout. She uses repetition and seamless transitioning between ideas to push readers through the book at a breathless pace.

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