Friday, September 14, 2012

The River by Michael Neale


This could have been one of those winners. The story has promise. Five year old Gabriel watches as his father sacrifices his life to rescue a fellow in an overturned kayak in The River. Then we follow Gabriel coming of age as he grows up under the care of the mother who had earlier abandoned him and his father. As a young adult, Gabriel goes on a trip with friends, back to The River where he has to face his memories and his fears.

The story line has great potential. Unfortunately the writing is very uneven. Between rare sentences of eloquence are pages of simple dialog and description. At times I felt I was reading something written by a middle schooler.
And the action is uneven. At times we spend a long time with Gabriel and a healing step in his life. At other times, it seems as if he overcomes some serious problem instantly.

As a Christian, I felt the spiritual aspect of this novel was all wet. Gabriel is to find his meaning in life in The River. There was the potential of having The River represent life in Christ. At times, it almost sounded like that was the intent. But the concept was never followed through. So, in the end, anyone – from animist to Unitarian – could find something “spiritual” in this book. There is no representation at all of God being the one to bring healing to Gabriel. Why this book would be published by a “Christian” publisher is beyond me.

I really can't recommend this book. The story line had so much potential. It is too bad the writing is not up to par and the spirituality is so vague.

Michael Neale is a writer, performer, and story teller. He is currently leading a multi-medial concert event known as The River with film imagery and musical score. He lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, with his wife and children. This is Neale's first book.

Thomas Nelson Publishers, 320 pages.

I received an egalley of this book from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of this review.
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