Release Date: August 27th, 2011
Genre: Historical fiction
Cover: I like it, but I don’t love it. I think it could be a little more eye-catching.
Source: Physical copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
At fifteen, Leen De Graaf likes everything she shouldn’t: smoking cigarettes, wearing red lipstick, driving illegally, and working in the fields. It seems the only thing she shares with her fellow Dutchmen is a fear of the German soldiers stationed nearby and a frantic wish for the war to end. When a soldier’s dog runs in front of Leen’s truck, her split decision sets off a storm of events that pitches her family against the German forces when they are most desperate – and fierce. Leen tries to hold her family together, but despite her efforts, bit by bit everything falls apart, and just when Leen experiences a horrific loss, she must make a decision that could forever brand her a traitor, yet finally allow her to live as her heart desires.
Inspired by the life of the author’s mother, River in the Sea is a powerful and moving account of one girl reaching adulthood when everything she believes about family, friendship, and loyalty is questioned by war.
First things first. This book is self-published. I will have you know that I hold all books to the same publishing standard, whether they are big 6 or self-published. And that’s why for me a lot of self-pubbed books don’t often meet the same standards that the big name publishers are able to achieve. There are many differing opinions on this, so if you disagree with me, that’s fine, but it’s the way I feel. That’s not saying I don’t enjoy self-published books because I have read some great ones. But I have had to do a lot of weeding to get to the ones that I have enjoyed. With River in the Sea I did not feel like I was reading any less than the best work that this author could put out. The editing was top-notch. The book flowed, grammatical errors and typos were to a minimum, characters were flawed but real, and I really REALLY liked the writing style. So props to Tina Boscha for having an extremely talented group of professionals behind her making her work shine.
This book is kind of hard to review though. I didn’t feel there was that much of a plot. There were a few things that happened that led to all the other events happening, but a lot of the book was just watching this family fall apart and struggle and fight to get to the end of this war and somehow manage to remain standing on their feet. And in the center of it all was the daughter Leen who is dealing with all of her emotions and how she feels about what happened. So in a lot of ways, I felt it was more of a character study than anything else. Which was fine! I enjoyed it. It was definitely more of a character-driven book though than a plot driven book. And at first I was a bit confused about that. And the huge reason was because of the way this book opens. It has this big huge dramatic event happening, and I guess I sort of thought the rest of the book would unfold in the same manner. There’s no right or wrong here; that is not a criticism, it’s just not what I expected.
It is beautifully written as well. The words flowed and I really appreciated the author’s writing style. It was very vivid without being overly descriptive. She also did a great job of setting the scene. I generally don’t read war stories, but I didn’t really feel like this book was a war story. It’s more about how a family deals with the effects of war and the aftermath. It’s an account of what I am sure a lot of families went through during WWII. Oftentimes we read about the concentration camps, the fighting, Hitler, and what it was like to be dealing with the war directly, but rarely do we hear about how a particular family in an occupied country is handling everything. And because of that I think I learned quite a bit. It wasn’t my favorite topic and it will never be, but I can appreciate a talented author and I know a good book when I read one. And so I would recommend this book to anybody that is intrigued by this review and has a love for WWII.
To order River in the Sea from Amazon.com, click here: River in the Sea. The Kindle edition is only $0.99.