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Title: The Singing River
Author: R.K. Ryals
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At eighteen, Haven Ambrose isn't just a high school graduate. In her head, she's an aspiring writer, a traveler, a chef, a slayer of injustice, an astronomer, an archaeologist, and the love child of a famous, rich musician. But reality is harsher. Reality is overdue bills, a crumbling trailer, an absent father, an old addiction, and a hot, crushing summer that may end in disappointment.
For twenty year-old River Brayden, life seems good, but appearances can be deceiving. The oldest son of a wealthy family, he has finished his first year at Harvard to return home for the summer only to discover his younger brother headed down an unforgiving road.
They will be drawn together by a song. For during the late summer, they say the Pascagoula death chant can still be heard near the Singing River. Its call is haunting, its chant a testament of love and sacrifice. It calls to some ... beckoning.
"Books carried me through my childhood. They carried me through cold nights and hot days, through hunger and fear. I grew up under the poverty level, and my family spent a lot of time telling each other stories to pass the time. I was awkward, clumsy, and different. I was quiet and bookish. I had the same problems as all teenagers. I often felt inadequate and insecure. I was bullied quite frequently. Words carried me. They gave me wings and helped me fly. They brought me through grief and despair, through the death of both of my parents and through the journey that came afterward. With time came knowledge and acceptance, and my love for words grew. Stories mean different things to different people. I tell stories because, through them, I grow as a person and as a writer. Remember, life isn't always easy. There are never guarantees, and we are all different for a reason. Embrace your awkward. Be unique. Change your fairytale. Because what makes you different makes you beautiful."
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This book flowed like a river. It had moments of soothing calm, churning rapids and still pools as it mimicked the characters' lives. R.K. Ryals paints a beautiful picture. She has a way of connecting you to her characters. You almost feel the sweat on your brow from the hot Mississippi sun. You are tethered to the pain and sorrow felt by the Brayden's as well as the Haven's love for her mother.
This story is so much more than just falling for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Haven is a relatable character and also my favorite. Despite having struggled her entire life, she is a proud and decent person. Haven is not ashamed of where she comes from. Life dealt her a crappy hand. But rather than letting it break her, she embraced it and made the most of it. On the other side, the Braydens were born into the perfect family with their lives planned out for them. The sudden and violent murder of River and Roman's dad throws a big kink into that plan. You learn that no matter where you come from and what you have everyone struggles from time to time. The book has so many stories intermingled within it. Haven's relationship with her mom, the Braydens dealing with the death of their father, finding a murderer, and the haunting tale of the Singing River. It is all woven together into an amazing story.
My favorite line from the book....
After River drops and breaks a clock he says to Haven, "Now, this moment, this exact moment, is frozen forever. No matter what happens after this, we have this moment."
Le Sigh. Such a swoon worthy moment.
I love R.K. Ryals' writing style. She reeled me in with her prose and touched my soul with her characters. I cannot wait to devour her other books.