4 out of 4 stars
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American River:Tributaries by Mallory M. O’Connor is book one of the American River trilogy. Written in the third person perspective, the story is told through various characters.
Marian McPhalan has decided to leave California and go to Boston with one of her daughters, Alex, to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. She leaves behind her husband, Owen, and two children, Julian and Kate, at their home, the Mockingbird Valley Ranch, located on the bank of the American River in Northern California. That ranch has been there for almost a century when Owen’s grandfather built it after he immigrated from Ireland. The Ashidas also live at the Mockingbird Valley Ranch and help the McPhalans with chores at the ranch. In Boston, Marian meets Carl, a musician, and they start a love affair. However their love affair only lasts during the summer and they go on their separate ways until later on in the story when a sudden event forces them to relive their past. Meanwhile, Kate and Tommy Ashida fall in love with each other, but they try to keep their relationship a secret. However, Owen finds out, and the Ashidas are forced to move out. When Kate and Tommy attend different colleges, they try to keep their love for each other alive, but Kate’s feelings for Tommy start to wane. Meanwhile, Julian runs away from home and tries to start a new life in San Francisco. At first, he is doing well since he has a job and a place to stay. However, he becomes involved with drugs and has to do some unsavory things to finance his way of life. As each of the characters struggle to find love, acceptance , or even peace, their fates are linked in a way that will lead to both happiness and heartbreak.
For the most part, I had no trouble keeping up with the names of various characters and their role in the story. The author also included a list of characters at the beginning of the book which was helpful because there were so many introduced in the book. Because of the various characters, the story also has a complex storyline. Despite this, I found the book to be very well-written and easy to read. Also, a map of the American river included at the beginning of the book was helpful in visualizing the river and other places mentioned in the book.
Moreover, the suspense and the tension between the characters as well as the characters themselves made this an interesting book to read. Not only were they realistic, but they were also relatable. The struggles of the characters to find love, acceptance, and purpose is what made them easy to relate to. For example, Julian is gay and has a hard time getting his dad to understand him. Luckily, he has Kate to support him, but he goes through so many trials that I felt sorry for him.
Throughout the entire book, the author touches themes and subjects that were controversial not only in those times, but in our times as well. In the book, there are mentions of biracial and gay relationships, affairs, prostitution, and racism. All these things make this book so realistic, and I’m sure can be relatable to many people. However, I know some readers are uncomfortable with these subjects so I would suggest to keep an open mind while reading the book. On the other hand, I like how the author incorporated art and music into her book as it made the book more unique.
Overall, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Because of the complex storyline and the realistic portrayal of the characters, I found this book to be an enjoyable read. I also didn’t notice any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes either. I recommend this book to those who like to read historical fiction novels.
American River: Tributaries
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