Cover image for Crooked River
Crooked River
Geary, Valerie.
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Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2014]
Physical Description:
326 pages ; 24 cm
Two sisters growing up in rural Oregon find their world shaken when they stumble across a dead woman in the river that runs through their father's property.
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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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With the inventiveness and emotional power of Promise Not to Tell, The Death of Bees, and After Her, a powerful literary debut about family and friendship, good and evil, grief and forgiveness.

He is not evil. I am not good.

We are the same: broken and put back together again.

Still grieving the sudden death of their mother, Sam and her younger sister Ollie McAlister move from the comforts of Eugene to rural Oregon to live in a meadow in a teepee under the stars with Bear, their beekeeper father. But soon after they arrive, a young woman is found dead floating in Crooked River, and the police arrest their eccentric father for the murder.

Fifteen-year-old Sam knows that Bear is not a killer, even though the evidence points to his guilt. Unwilling to accept that her father could have hurt anyone, Sam embarks on a desperate hunt to save him and keep her damaged family together.

I see things no one else does.

I see them there and wish I didn't. I want to tell and can't.

Ollie, too, knows that Bear is innocent. The Shimmering have told her so. One followed her home from her mom's funeral and refuses to leave. Now, another is following Sam. Both spirits warn Ollie: the real killer is out there, closer and more dangerous than either girl can imagine.

Told in Sam and Ollie's vibrant voices, Crooked River is a family story, a coming of age story, a ghost story, and a psychological mystery that will touch reader's hearts and keep them gripped until the final thrilling page.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In her debut novel, Geary combines a straight-ahead thriller with a strong dose of the supernatural. Sam McAlister and her younger sister, Ollie, are in shock after the sudden death of their mother. Now residing with their emotionally fragile father, Bear, a beekeeper who lives in rural Oregon, they are facing a major adjustment. Ollie refuses to speak, although she can see ghosts she dubs the Shimmering, while feisty Sam is still stewing over the unfairness of life. Then their father, the quintessential outsider, is arrested for the murder of a newspaper reporter. The girls know their father is innocent and are determined to prove it, and their quest leads them to a mentally unstable sculptor and his dysfunctional family. Alternately narrated by the sisters, the novel is most successful when exploring the sisters' bond, now sorely tested by their circumstances, but is less successful on the supernatural front, which strains credulity. Still, the narrative skill displayed is impressive, and even skeptical readers will have a hard time putting this one down.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2014 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Sam's mother has recently died and she's trying to hold on to some sense of normality after she and her selectively mute younger sister Ollie move to rural Oregon to live with their societal-dropout, tent-dwelling father. Sam is exhausted with trying to care for Ollie, who communicates by pointing at apt sentences in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The reader knows that Ollie is pursued everywhere by "shimmering" ghosts whose voices, she fears, will come out if she tries to talk. Then there's a murder that's close to home in every sense of the phrase, and Sam fears that all that is familiar to her, shaky though it is, will come asunder. Geary's debut novel, narrated in alternating chapters by the sisters, is more enigmatic than frightening, and the app-aritions add a compelling twist to what's already an absorbing mystery. VERDICT This will appeal to those who enjoyed Wiley Cash's more literary A Land More Kind Than Home, as it will make the reader feel for the young protagonists who are buffeted by forces over which they have no control, and whose tenderness comes across in their care for each other and fear for their family. [See Prepub Alert, 4/14/14.]--Henrietta Verma, -Library Journal (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.