Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen

During the summer of 1968, Shenny’s mother disappeared, leaving her and her twin sister Woody with their once-loving father who now drowns his sorrows in alcohol while trying to copy with the whole situation. Since then, twelve-year-old Shenny (who was named for the Shenandoah Valley), is trying to take care of herself and Woody, who stopped speaking the day their mother vanished. As her father threatens to send Woody away, Shenny is determined to find her mother before it’s too late. The young girl senses that Woody might know something about their mother’s disappearance, but since her twin sister doesn’t speak anymore, Shenny can’t seem to solve this mystery. However, when a series of events takes place, the young protagonist is ultimately forced to face the heart-breaking truth about her family and about what really happened to her mother.

When I first read the synopsis of Tomorrow River, I was intrigued by the sound of this book, mainly because I liked that the story is told from a child’s point of view. I find that whenever I read a story narrated by a young protagonist, it makes the book so much more interesting and special. I think that it has to do with the fact that a child has such a different view of the world and everything that surrounds us. Children often tend to see things that adults are likely to ignore and neglect, mainly because adults are too preoccupied with other things. Therefore, children are perfect for telling a story, because they are good at uncovering secrets and other mysteries. With their curiosity and honesty, children can find out so much and it’s their witty and ingenious questions that often make them perfect sleuths. That’s why I liked Tomorrow River so much! I must admit that I didn’t really care much about the plot, as it was Shenny who really stood out. You can’t help but feel sympathy for her and you long to help Shenny find her mother. I also deeply cared about Woody, since she seemed so fragile and even though she didn’t speak, she still communicated with Shenny in her own way. We see Woody through Shenny’s eyes and what we see is a wounded girl who will never be the same again, because of what she had witnessed the day her mother vanished.

Overall, I was really pleased with this novel and I really liked the fact that it had such a surprising ending. Like me, you have all probably read books with endings that did not really surprise you, as you already knew how they would end. Tomorrow River is different as the story evolves in an unexpected way and you will find that nothing is what it seems when it comes to this book. And I really like novels that take you by surprise and sweep you away!

I recommend Tomorrow River to everyone who likes to read an emotional and heart-breaking story about a girl who has to cope with the painful truth about her dysfunctional family. Lesley Kagen has created a coming-of-age story and a haunting tale about a brave and brokenhearted young girl whose courage and intelligence lead her to finally discover a dark and disturbing truth that will change her family and her life forever!

Here are some of my favorite lines that perfectly describe this wonderful book:

“During the course of all our lives, there comes a time when something or someone very dear to us will break beyond repair. Growing older teaches us we have no choice but to humbly accept that no matter how hard we try or how many tears we shed we’re powerless to glue those precious pieces back together again. But during the summer I went searching for our missing mother, I was just a girl. I hadn’t learned that lesson yet. No. It wasn’t until the damage was done that I truly understood the meaning of “Pride goeth before a fall”.”

Note: I would like to thank Tala Oszkay from Penguin Group for giving me the opportunity to read and review such a remarkable book!

So what about you? Do you like stories that are told from a child’s point of view? What books have you read that were told by a young protagonist like Shenny? I would like to read more books like Tomorrow River and I would be happy if you shared some reading suggestions with me.

A Moment of Silence by Anna Dean

When I discovered A Moment of Silence a few months ago, I immediately added this book to my wish list since it was described as a mystery novel with a touch of Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. I don’t think I need to tell you how much I love Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, because if you follow my blog, then I suppose you are already familiar with this fact. Thus, I was eager to read this book because I knew that I would love it. And I must say that I really did love this charming novel and I am looking forward to reading more works by Anna Dean in order to find out more about her main character Miss Dido Kent.

But now let’s have a look at the plot:

In 1805, Miss Dido Kent arrives at Belsfield Hall, the country estate of the Montague family, in order to help her niece, Catherine, deal with the fact that her finacé, Richard Montague, has suddenly broken their engagement and disappeared. Miss Dido learns that at Catherine’s engagement ball, a peculiar thing had taken place: a stranger had appeared at Richard’s shoulder and had looked at him without saying a word. Afterwards, Richard had immediately broken off his engagement to Catherine and left Belsfield Hall, never to be seen again. Therefore, heartbroken Catherine seeks the help of her spinster aunt Dido in order to discover the motive for Richard’s strange behavior and disappearance. But it seems that Miss Dido will have to solve yet another mystery, since after her arrival at Belsfield Hall, the discovery of a body in the shrubbery is made. However, Catherine’s aunt enjoys solving mysteries, thus she is eager to shed light on the strange and shocking events that have taken place at Belsfield Hall. Nevertheless, she must pay heed, as everyone seems to have something to hide and people are willing to do everything in order to keep their dark secrets safe. The Montague family seems to have a few skeletons in the closet, and Dido must be careful not to put herself in danger while trying to uncover the mysteries of the past.

A Moment of Silence was a delightful book and it was a real joy to read such an entertaining novel! As I was reading this book, I often caught myself smiling because the main character is so amusing with her interrogations, assumptions and observations. Miss Dido Kent is such a likeable character; she is very clever and she reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, with her witty way of questioning everybody and with her many enchanting thoughts. What I really loved about A Moment of Silence was the fact that Anna Dean has given the reader a glimpse into Miss Dido’s mind by allowing the protagonist to reveal her thoughts through letters. That way, we can witness what is really on Miss Dido’s mind and furthermore, we can conclude many things by knowing how she feels about a certain matter. In my opinion, this was very cleverly done by the author and I found it very refreshing to read Miss Dido’s letters.

A Moment of Silence was the perfect book for me, as I love a good mystery novel. Moreover, the book’s ingredients were very appealing to me, since the novel deals with dark secrets, intrigues, lies, murder and deception. The murder case was not that important to me (although I was eager to find out Whodunit); I was more interested in Miss Dido and I loved how she tried to solve the mysteries with her nagging questions and her desire to know about everything and everyone. She doesn’t spare anyone and she always observes even the smallest things, and we all know how important that it, when it comes to solving a murder case! All in all, I must say that I really enjoyed this book and I couldn’t get enough of Miss Dido Kent! I recommend A Moment of Silence to everyone who likes to read mystery novels and crime fiction and I think that this book will appeal to all Agatha Christie fans!

Note: I would like to thank Chiara Priorelli from Allison & Busby for sending me a copy of this great book. You can find out more about A Moment of Silence here.

Also, make sure to check out Aarti’s review of A Moment of Silence (the U.S. title is Bellfield Hall) at Booklust.