3 out of 4 stars
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American River: Confluence is book three of the American River Trilogy by Mallory M. O'Connor. The series is a historical drama set in the early 1970's that focuses on the lives of the descendants of three immigrant families. These families settled along California's American River and became connected throughout the years.
The third book begins with the three families - the McPhalans, the Morales and the Ashidas. The patriarch, Owen McPhalan, has died and left Mockingbird Valley Ranch to his daughter, Kate. Once Kate realizes that the ranch is no longer profitable, she must find a way to save Mockingbird. She calls upon her friends and family members to set aside their feuds and hurts to save the family home. Most of her family have moved to other areas of the country to pursue their dreams. They attempt to work together, while struggling through their own personal issues and pain - from heartache and injuries to loss. As they pursue their mutual goal of saving the ranch, they are unaware someone is working diligently to thwart their efforts.
Mallory M. O'Connor has written a captivating story that covers a wide range of social issues intertwined with the development of the characters. The main story is intricate and involves several subplots centered around different family members. At first, I was confused as to the many characters and their connections to each other. I would recommend reading the first two books in the trilogy so the story would be more easily followed. There is a cast of characters at the beginning of the book that will help in understanding the relationships of the characters.
Overall, the story is about the McPhalan family trying to come together and work through their personal issues with the goal of producing a musical festival at the Mockingbird Ranch to save the family property. However, many subplots focus on social issues of the times, such as politics, mental health, sexuality and racism. These issues are cleverly woven throughout the story about a family of artists pursuing their own goals and dreams while coming together for a greater purpose. I found myself viewing these issues from the perspective of the characters. The author encourages the reader to think about controversial issues.
In addition to a complex storyline, Ms O'Connor has written a descriptive story. The reader is given a picture of the beauty and diversity of our country, focusing on the California area.
I really enjoyed the many different characters and subplots. One of my favorites was towards the end of the book. In order to not give away any "spoilers", I'll just say it involved post-traumatic stress disorder and was very thought-provoking. Although I enjoyed the many characters and their stories, ironically, that is also an issue I had. It was hard to follow the story at the beginning and I had to keep referring to the list of characters.
This book appears to be professionally edited. I noticed only a few minor grammatical mistakes. I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars, based on the complexity of following the characters and the few errors I found. I believe this book will appeal to fans of historical fiction that like to have their thoughts challenged and new ideas presented to them. I don't think young readers, below high school level, would comprehend the complexity of the book. I recommend reading the first two books in the series before this one.
America River: Confluence
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