Sometimes a river song: Book Review

Sometimes A River Song by Avril Joy is a beautiful novella set in a river boat community in Arkansas in the 1930s, which I felt was really unique setting. Most of the narration is from the perspective of a young girl, Aiyana, who grows up in the river boat community. She has a very troubled childhood, an abusive, incorrigible, controlling father figure, who doesn’t allow her to learn to read and write despite her ardent desire to do so and her struggle to escape from it all is the essence of the story.

The writing style is very stream of consciousness and since most of the chapters are narrated from Aiyana’s perspective, the writing emulates that of a young girl who hasn’t been formally educated. The sentences are structured in a broken, slightly disjointed format, but it never feels clunky. In fact, the writing has a very lilting, musical quality to it and it almost reads as prose poetry. There were several sections which were absolutely breathtaking. It takes chapter or two for the style to grow on you and then you start to really appreciate the beauty and authenticity of it.
I was in awe of how Avril Joy creates that balance in her writing which I feel is a feat in itself.

Aiyana is such a wonderful character and narrator. The river is a lifeline for the community and the way the daily lives of these people interweaves seamlessly with the flow of the river is captured so beautifully. It is a short read, less than 200 pages so it feels like a novella, but really packs a punch despite its length.

If this description intrigues you, I’d highly recommend you pick it up. It definitely is one of the best experimental pieces of literature that I’ve read and it deserves far more recognition and more people should read it.

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