Monday, October 17, 2011

Follow the River--A Review

Follow the River, by James Alexandar Thom, was my midnight buddy for the past few days. It is the gripping story of a 23-year-old woman, Mary, kidnapped by Shawnee Indians in 1755, after they destroyed her settlement and killed many of its inhabitants. She escapes with another woman and makes a 700+ mile trek back to her husband.

I have to offer a disclaimer. The violence described in the book, especially at the beginning, is deeply disturbing, and I might have put it aside if it weren't for the overall recommendation of a friend. Other descriptions throughout are cringe-inducing as well.

Thom researched his topic thoroughly, including retracing Mary's steps, and it shows. His grasp of the terrain she covered shows in his vivid descriptions, which at times can be repetitive. I found myself skimming through the middle of the book, because of my painful anticipation of how it would end. Even though I knew she would make it, there were so many unknowns that I found myself clicking (kindle read) through the pages as quickly as I could and skipping many of the descriptions that after several hundred miles--seemed like more of the same.

He also contacted Mary's posterity and combed through rare documents, including a handwritten memoir, which serves to bring more credibility to his story.

One of the story's greatest strengths is in its protagonist, who demonstrates such remarkable strength of character, it is impossible not to stand in awe of what she accomplished. If you enjoy reading stories of real women who accomplished something extraordinary, you can't go wrong with this one.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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