Angela Palm grew up in a place not marked on the map, her house set on the banks of a river that had been straightened to make way for farmland. Every year, the Kankakee River in rural Indiana flooded and returned to its old course while the residents sandbagged their homes against the rising water.Read more...
Angela Palm grew up in a place not marked on the map, her house set on the banks of a river that had been straightened to make way for farmland. Every year, the Kankakee River in rural Indiana flooded and returned to its old course while the residents sandbagged their homes against the rising water. From her bedroom window, Palm watched the neighbor boy and loved him in secret, imagining a life with him even as she longed for a future that held more than a job at the neighborhood bar. For Palm, caught in this landscape of flood and drought, escape was a continually receding hope.
Though she did escape, as an adult Palm finds herself drawn back, like the river, to her origins. But this means more than just recalling vibrant, complicated memories of the place that shaped her, or trying to understand the family that raised her. It means visiting the prison where the boy that she loved is serving a life sentence for a brutal murder. It means trying to chart, through the mesmerizing, interconnected essays of Riverine, what happens when a single event forces the path of her life off course.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-06-06
- Reviewer: Staff
Combining lyrical prose with a haunting narrative, Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize–winner Palm recounts a story filled with secret longings, family history, and musings on what might have been. Raised in rural Indiana alongside the flood-prone Kankakee River, Palm dreamed of escaping to a wider world populated with more opportunities. Palm eventually does depart for college and later makes a home in Vermont. But the pull back to the Midwest is strong, and nagging questions persist. As a youngster, the author was secretly in love with her next-door neighbor. But their routes diverged with Palm making a new life for herself, first in Indianapolis and later in Vermont, while her neighbor ends up serving a life sentence for murder. Palm probes deeply into the family and small-town stories, which instilled such a deep sense of place in the author. She becomes fascinated with theories of criminal justice—taking college classes on the subject, reading local police blotters, and watching crime shows on television to better understand the how and why of what happened to her friend. All in all, this is a memoir to linger over, savor and study. Agent: Lana Popovic, Chalberg & Sussman. (Aug.)