Riverland

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

Ugh what an emotional and tear jerking book! The writing was phenomenal and I love the love between the siblings.
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A story about sisterly love, triumph & loyalty, This story very much reminded me of a story I read and enjoyed a few years ago, “Rules for Stealing Stars”. These sisters created a world I. Which to escape from the harsh realities of life.
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Sorry I did not get to read and review this one as my college exam season started. I will look out for it elsewhere.
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I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed reading this. An interesting story with fun characters. Well written.
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What I did like about Riverland was the strong bond between the sisters Eleanor and Mike. Eleanor does her best to shield her sister from Poppa's outbursts and tempers, and she does what she can to make sure Mike still sees things in a child-like way, as she should. Eleanor has her own issues, though, because she feels helpless and powerless, and the way Poppa speaks to her hardly helps. She hopes to be brave and strong for others.

The one aspect that was critical to the story was the way Eleanor and Mike dealt with the abusive relationships at home. Children have to deal with some truly horrible things at times, and the way the topic was approached showed not only the issues of domestic violence but also the wider ramifications of what it means to grow up in an abusive household. Eleanor and Mike bear the brunt of what happens between their Poppa and Momma. What Eleanor's friend Pendra thinks is magical about her home is really just her mother picking things up after her father's rages. They are all compensating for their Poppa's anger and the damage he does.

The way the girls and their mother deal with the father's temper and lashing out follows a pattern that is ingrained in them. There is denial, escapism, belief that stronger forces are at work. The unwillingness to accept help or admit the abuse. The fear of speaking out and being honest. They are constantly doing their best to hide the issues in their family from teachers, their grandmother, and the counselor.

Overall, though, Riverland didn't entirely hit the mark for me. I wanted to like the fantasy world and was looking forward to an Alice-in-Wonderland-like adventure. I also hoped for more developed characters overall, especially the adults. Even with these important scenes between the sisters, where they try to protect each other, I spent the first half of the book really unsure of what Riverland was, how the creatures in it were connected, who the characters were meant to be, and what was going on even in the real world ... and the second half of the book didn't answer these questions as much as I would have liked. I was admittedly confused at times by the nature of Riverland and the creatures. The moments in and out of Riverland felt fragmented between bouts in the real world above.

Of course, handling the topic of domestic abuse with young children is a sensitive thing. This book might help bring up difficult topics for discussion and allow for the building of empathy.

Thank you to Netgalley ARC and ABRAMS Kids/Amulet Books for advance access to this book in exchange for an honest review. 
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Many readers might engage with the emotions of the two sisters. A worry, however, is that while often kids blame themselves for the anger and sadness they see their parents experience, I don't believe the author went far enough to show how that isn't true.

At times the narrative was confusing, I struggled to see how the river fit in with the overall arc of the story. I wished there had been more of a development with the relationship between the sisters and their grandmother and that the parents had been more fully fleshed out.
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This was a great book in theory, but rather difficult to follow. The theme of domestic violence was very strong. I appreciated that the sisters could band together for safety.
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A magical read that touches on the very real=life topic of domestic violence. While Riverland is aimed at the middle grade reader, the content is also extremely relatable and appropriate for young adult and adult readers. This book shows the real life consequences of living with abuse in the home and as the writer shares, she hopes her work will be accessible on a bookshelf for those who need it most. 

The author is a skilled writer and I enjoyed the flow of the story. The plot is solid and I look forward to reading more from Fran Wilde.

***Thank you to NetGalley and Abrams Kids  for providing me with an advanced ARC of Riverland by Fran Wilde in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.***
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Mini review:

Trigger warning: Mention of bad temper regarding the MCs father. Up till the point I read. 

DNF

I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

I was really looking forward to reading this book! Unfortunately I didn’t like it. 

To put it simply I started losing interest while reading. I couldn’t wrap my head around the beginning and while I wanted to read more, I couldn’t bring myself to. 

I still recommend.
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This is an interesting and magical story about two sisters Eleanor and Mike in a bad situation at home. When their parents are upset they hide under the bed and tell stories where they feel safe. But when a family heirloom gets smashed, their whole world changes and it sends the two sisters down a magical river taking, them away from their home. This Riverland that they find themselves in was hard for me to connect with and just didn’t appeal to me personally. I could see how children growing up in an emotionally abusive home might find comfort in creating this type of story to escape. 
Thank you to Abrams Kids and NetGalley  for this copy to review, my opinions are my own.
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When I first read Riverland I thought it was excellent, but questioned the YA designation. The theme of domestic violence is pervasive, and I found myself wondering if it was "suitable" for young readers. Then I read the author's acknowledgements, where she noted that this book was for anyone who needed it and a testament to the fact that she "saw" the young people who are surviving these situations and that such books needed to be on shelves for those in similar situations so they feel seen and heard. She is right. 100% right. I hope this book ends up in every single library in the land (it absolutely will be in mine), because this beautiful and heartbreaking book needs to be there for those who need it.
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