Ricochet River by Robin Cody
I heard about this book when there was a controversy over the author rewriting certain passages so the book banning crowd would stop trying to prevent its use in schools. I wrote about it here. Now, I can understand the author wanting his book to be picked up for school reading lists. This is a first novel with regional appeal published by a small press in the early ’90s. If schools hadn’t taken an interest in it, it would almost certainly be long out of print.
I, of course, read the original version, not the revised version. Every summer we go to Penticton where there is this great used bookstore called The Book Shop. So many books. You should go! Anyhow, last summer I ran across this book at The Book Shop and I had to get it, if only to see what was so controversial about it.
Sigh. Yeah, I don’t know. People are whack when it comes to sex. There are two sexual passages in this 266-page book. Both are appropriate to the context of this story and these characters and would be perfectly fine for high schoolers to read. As for the drinking & driving and language choices—it’s a period piece. I think all too often people forget how things were in the not-so-distant past. Would be better to use these things as points for discussion rather than getting all revisionist and sweeping them under the carpet.
This is a coming-of-age story set in 1959-60 in a small Oregon town. I liked the West Coasty-ness of it; the setting was very authentic. The narrative voice was engaging. Storytelling (i.e. the characters telling stories to each other) plays a significant role in the book and this is, I think, what sets this story apart from others in its genre, but at times this device bogs the story down. The story itself is a quiet one with no dramatic plot developments—except for the ending. On the one hand, an ending in this vein was inevitable. On the other hand, what happens is perhaps a bit too surreal. But perhaps not. I think the author was going for a sort of magical realism thing, tying the events of the story to the myths & legends of the storytelling. If there had been a tighter linking between the two streams all along it would have both evened out the pacing and made the ending a better fit. Nevertheless, it was a pretty good first novel.