Wednesday, October 5, 2016
About the Book
It wasn’t all poodle skirts and rock ‘n’ roll. From its deceptively innocent beginning—two young teens exploring the riverbank and spying on “Crazy Haggerty’s” dilapidated house—through the intertwining story lines of paganism, murder and sexual violence, Stony River shows how perilous life was for some girls in the 1950s. Absent mothers, controlling fathers, biblical injunctions, teenage longing and small-town pretense abound. The threat of violence is all around: angry fathers at home, dirty boys in the neighborhood, strange men in strange cars, a dead girl and another gone missing.
The central mystery, inspired by the crimes of Robert Zarinsky as documented by Robin Gaby Fisher and Judith Lucas in Deadly Secrets (Newark Star–Ledger 2008), keeps the reader guessing until almost the very end, when the frightening truth is revealed. In this coming-of-age mystery, three girls learn who they are and what they’re capable of surviving—and forgiving.
Stony River is a great book. It drew me right in. In every small town in America there are secrets, especially in the 1950s. It made me glad that I didn't grow up back then, when women really didn't have a lot of choices.
For young girls, the emphasis is placed on acting like a lady in preparation for finding a husband. The mothers in the book aren't really good role models for their daughters. They don't stand up to the men in their lives, and when they do, it's usually in a meek and timid way, like complaining from a sickbed. That kind of behavior doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the next generation.
Which leads to the girls in the book making a lot of bad choices - confusing a father's love with continual abuse, looking for a man's help to flee a bad situation instead of trying to save themselves, having it drilled into their heads repeatedly that accepting bad behavior from a man is the norm, and should be expected. It's drilled into their heads that a woman needs to be attractive, likable and submissive. Not exactly a recipe for a girl power movement.
Yet the girls in the story surprised me. They questioned why they should just go along with it. Why should a teenage mother have to give her baby up for adoption? Why can't a girl rent a hotel room by herself without having to give a list of references? Why isn't the word of an unattractive, overweight rape victim found credible on the witness stand?
With more freedom, more education and more opportunities than their mothers had, the world begins to open up to them as they start experiencing what's out there for themselves. Sometimes their curiosity leads them to dangerous places, but they learn to think on their feet, and not just believe what the adults in their lives have told them.
And when that happens, it's a whole new world. One that's a lot bigger than Stony River.
Stony River can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble
Prices/Formats: $10.99 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Crime, Historical, Coming of Age
Release: October 6, 2016
Publisher: Leapfrog Press
Click to add to your Goodreads list.
About the Author
Tricia Dower confesses to smoking a river punk or two in Rahway, New Jersey, where she was born and raised by perfectly fine parents who did not keep her hidden in a spooky house. A graduate of Gettysburg College and a Phi Mu, she built a career in business before reinventing herself as a writer in 2002. Her literary work has crossed borders and won awards. She expanded a story from her Shakespeare-inspired collection, Silent Girl (Inanna 2008) into Stony River, which was first published in Canada (Penguin, 2012). Her novel, Becoming Lin (Caitlin Press), was released in Canada in 2016. A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, Dower lives and writes in Brentwood Bay, BC.
Links to connect with Tricia:
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