Newlywed Anna Larsen is finally living her dream – when her college student daughter Lauren becomes pregnant. Lauren marries and begins to raise her daughter Sarah while living with her husband and paternal grandmother. Though only a few hours’ from Anna, Lauren becomes distant and remote. Anna develops a special bond with Sarah, however, during a rare summer visit, and it is strengthened during annual summer visits – until Lauren comes home in tears and Sarah subsequently disappears. As Anna grows her riverside inn on inherited family land, can she become the strong matriarch of her family and support her lost family?
Honestly, I might have put this book down soon after beginning if it weren’t for my commitment to this review; the characters’ drama unfolded slowly at first, and I found it difficult to develop a personal connection to them – perhaps because this is the second in the series, and I have not read the first.
I kept reading, however, and it wasn’t long until I couldn’t wait to see how Anna would hold her family together. I admire her strength, her conviction, her dedication to her family and her Native American roots. Anna had a close relationship with her grandmother in her younger years, which I could identify with – I spent lots of time with my great-grandparents, learning the ways of their childhood, when I was a child myself.
But as much as I loved Anna, I couldn’t stand Lauren. She was selfish, self-centered, a disengaged mother, and I spent much of the book wanting to reach through the pages and shake her. That type of self-absorption completely disgusts me, and I couldn’t imagine having Anna’s patience in dealing with her. A desire to learn her trade secrets made me read faster, as did sorrow for Sarah. I hoped that she wouldn’t fall through the cracks of her unusual family and run into trouble.
So by the time I finished the book, staying up too late to finish it, I was in love with the characters and fascinated by the plot. Carlson wrote an epic story on a simple scale, and its sweetness despite hardship is inspiring.
If you’re looking for hardcore suspense or action, then this may not be the book for you. However, if you’re a fan of angst and drama, of epic works and seeing how decisions follow families through the ages, how culture and trends can play into family decisions, you shouldn’t miss River’s Call.
There is a third book in the Inn at Shining Waters series. I can’t wait to read it – and I’m definitely tracking down the first one.
I received a free copy of River’s Call from Glass Road in exchange for an honest review.