Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The River by Michael Neale

Five year old Gabriel Clarke witnessed his own father’s heroic death as the river guide rescued a drowning rafter. Too young to really understand the sacrifice his father made, Gabriel only feels abandonment.  The young boy left the Colorado River behind as he and his mother began a new, simple life on Great Plains farmland.  With an overwhelming need to live a secure life, Gabriel settles for a dull life working in a small town store after high school.  When a childhood friend seems intent on including Gabriel in a summer trip west, Gabriel finally agrees to go. 

At their Colorado camp, the others excitedly prepare for a rafting trip down the river, but Gabriel is sure he will not accompany them, choosing instead to stay in camp.  But the river calls to him, and his timid demeanor is changed by interactions with an old river man, a young rafter named Tabitha. Gabriel’s life changes and in the end he’ll learn important truths about himself, his father, and all of us.
As you read the passages of his first river trips you’ll know this book is more than a story about a young man’s summer trip.  It is a parable about overcoming fear, embracing life with all its dangers and uncertainties, and the strength we gain when we relinquish our own “wimpy” hold on the details of our lives.  In other words, the creator has a much bolder plan for us than we have, but first we have to let go of our fears, even those founded in pain such as Gabriel’s.  As Gabriel learns to put his trust in the current of the river( place your feet downstream), we must learn to place our faith in God's strength.
Author Michael Neale is an accomplished Christian musician and this novel is part of a new ministry.  The trailer for the book describes the experience this way (paraphrase from the video clip) – The more you experience the river, the more you want to stay close, the more you experience the river, the more you want to live. 
I received a review copy of this title from NetGalley for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

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