Gideon’s River drew me in with its realistic characters and situations and its unconventional ones, too. Relationships are at the core of the story as they are in life. Control issues are often at the center of relationship issues and are dealt with realistically as well. The juxtaposition of real life and stage play life added an unexpected dimension. It is a cleverly used device to show the inner workings and emotional potential, both light and dark, that resides in each of us and depends on the choices we make. The use of the church as a character adds an unusual humanizing aspect. The unconventional character and role of Kathleen, the minister, enhances the story in interesting ways as well. We are reminded that the love for a child isn’t always enough to counterbalance outside negative influences, intentional or unwitting. Duane is a good example of the harm one parent can inflict on a child after a divorce by criticizing, disrespecting, misrepresenting, and undermining the custodial parent. Duane’s mother, a victim of that, in the end chooses to give up the role of victimhood imposed on her and make a better life. Sadly, Duane, as his embittered father’s real victim, chooses a darker path as a young adult. Gideon struggles with his teenage insecurities of fitting into his second family with two half-siblings. He is as uncertain of his mother Rosalie’s love as she is sure of it. Nor has he yet discovered where he fits into the family. With his mother’s and step-father Fred’s consistent love and supportive intervention when and as most needed, Gideon makes good choices eventually, unlike Duane, and ends up on a firm footing. Rosalie’s new boss is a very insecure, mean-spirited, controlling woman. By remaining true to herself, Rosalie weathers and survives the difficult challenges presented by Connie, another of life’s lessons well handled in the book. Connie reaps the consequences of her choices, too. If you are looking for a good book on the inner workings, motives, choices and outcomes of choices within relationships, you can’t go wrong with “Gideon’s River.” It’s a good read.” EB
To listen to Trish speak about what kind of character we might admire in a boy growing into manhood, see the post A Man That Is a Man.