Title: Moon River
Published: 17th September 2016
Publisher: Little Creek Books
Author: Amber D. Tran
In this debut novel from author Amber D. Tran, a tale of adolescence and heartbreak unfolds. Nine-year-old Abigail Kavanagh first meets Ryan Mills during the summer of 1999. A shy and awkward boy, Ryan hides behind his wide-framed glasses while Abigail is determined to learn everything there is to know about him. The next few summers are filled with birthday parties, adventures in and around the West Virginian mountainsides, and late night conversations where they share their most secretive and personal thoughts.
Their friendship starts to crumble when Abigail befriends the attractive and musical Lilly Anderson, a girl who is also interested in uncovering the mysterious nature surrounding Ryan. However, everything comes to an end the summer of 2004, and Abigail must decide if her new journey is worth traveling alone.
A novel that takes place in a small town in northern West Virginia, Moon River is a story that exploits the brutal honesty in growing up fast, loving too young, and losing too soon.
A coming of age story filled with some darker traits throughout in regards to what these children go through. From bullying, to sexual references at such a young age (main character is 9 to start with and story follows her for 5 years), depression, suicidal thoughts and selfishness from a few draining so-called friends.
It’s really a downward spiral right from the start with everything Abigail and Ryan go through. Ryan was Abigail’s first real crush. It only took one look and she was infatuated with him. In her mind he became the other half of her but it would take a year or so for him to really notice her. The first time they speak is at a very emotionally damaging event for her. She goes to a sleep over at Kimmie’s but it’s one of her friend’s that takes thing in a strange direction. Creating a right of passage so to speak for her to be included in the group. This was the first part that made it a bit uncomfortable to read and you can see how badly Abigail was affected by it. What almost finished in a horrible night takes a slight happier turn when Ryan, Kimmie’s cousin, turns up, even if it was embarrassing in how he caught her. When Kimmie says he asked about her after she left it only helped fuel her crush more.
Ryan’s birthday party is another key moment in joining them together, along with Kimmie and Scott, Abigail’s cousin, as it’s after this that they have a summer to remember. Involves kids just being kids with hanging out on bike rides or in the pool. Things soon change when school starts though. Its like the minute it did Ryan went back into himself and shut her out. You can already see the cracks start to appear with him and also slowly see how fragile Abigail is as well.
Things take a mark darker turn with the introduction of Lilly. (Sorry but bitch is thy name no matter her age). She starts out wanting to be Abigail’s friend, saying they are the same, connected like no other. When she starts dating someone it gives Abigail ideas about Ryan. Talking all night on MSN is one thing but she wants to feel connected to him when the world can see. She gets what she wishes but he has already started to slip further down the rabbit hole with his behavior and it’s not long before its trouble in paradise. Lilly and Ryan go darker into themselves and its not until the end when you find out Abigail was almost dragged down too. Lilly was an abuser, even at a young age, with how she treated Abigail. Walking all over her, bringing her down and alienating others. She might have been the catalyst but these kids already had a few problems that they were dealing with. Ryan didn’t need someone to follow him down into the darkness that seemed to pull at him from a young age. He needed someone to pull him into the light.
You feel for them all and hope for a different outcome but get the feeling very soon on that this isn’t a happily ever after read. Deals with a lot of issues that don’t get mentioned in books much. It was an interesting, but at times, hard emotional read that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. I feel because I really disliked a certain character, along with the very strong language from the start which was a bit surprising given their ages, it made it harder to enjoy the book more but it was well written and definitely worth a look.
3.5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.