About the Book
Forced to spend the summer of 1976 with relatives, Chris Morgan faces many challenges. Her mom and dad are splitting up and she hates being away from them. Now she has to make some tough choices about what she knows is right or giving in to the expectations of her new friends. Surrounded by the danger of the river and the shadows of her family’s past, Chris realizes her carefree childhood is ending.
For Readers and Book Clubs:
“Set in 1976, the intriguing story includes some unexpected plot turns. Delving into heavy family issues, this novel is best suited for more mature teens. VERDICT Consider as a purchase for readers who enjoy books by April Henry.” — School Library Journal
“The book is one that teens will read, engaging with Chris, her feelings, and her fight for survival in a terrible situation. This is a painful, powerful coming-of-age story for teens who enjoy realistic fiction from a different decade.” — Adrienne Amborski, VOYA Magazine
“The River’s Edge is a haunting novel that resonates long after the last page, and Tina Sears is an author to watch in the future for further works that will contribute the same catharsis to our ever-darkening world.” — Kayla King, Review, YABooksCentral.com
“‘The River’s Edge’ by Tina Sears is a hauntingly telling read, with powerful descriptions. Readers will find their emotions stirred and their consciences wracked as they struggle to understand main character Chris’ position and how she will cope with the losses she finds herself encountering during a summer meant to be fun and carefree . . . Sears’ debut novel packs a punch and engages readers with real-life issues that many teens, and even many adults, face. A definite title to add to any contemporary young adult fan’s reading list.” — Beth Rodgers, Staff Reviewer, YABooksCentral.com
“Such a fresh voice . . . a lovely, painful, powerful coming of age story. Truly chilling and captivating.” — Diane Les Becquets, best-selling author of Breaking Wild
“In a voice reminiscent of Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird, Tina Sears evokes striking physical and emotional landscapes that are rife with danger and secrets. It’s a marvel to witness her characters navigate this world that Sears has created for them.” — Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy, William Morrow/HarperCollinsPublishers
“Sears has written a hard-hitting coming of age novel that pulls the curtain off of family secrets and shame. She lovingly captures the innocence of the time, and then swiftly and honestly shows the darker side of it.” — Jo Knowles, author of Read Between the Lines
“Tina Sears is a brave and compassionate writer with a vital story to tell. I believe this will be a book with the power to heal.” — Mitch Wieland, author of God’s Dogs
“Tina Sears tackles a tough subject, having written about the thievery of innocence. If there was ever any doubt about the need to tell about such a crime, it is dispelled in this lovely coming of age story set in the 1970s.” — Laurie Salzler, author of After a Time
WHEN MY DAD left, Mom said he would come back to us, but I said I would believe it when I saw the whites of his eyes. I knew my dad was as reliable as a fart in a windstorm. He was a good dad when he was around, but he travelled a lot for his job. He would always bring me some sort of special gift when he returned. Something good, too. Not like some old crappy prize you get in a Cracker Jack box. One time he gave me a pen that had four different color inks. It had black, red, blue, and purple. Purple! My favorite color. It wasn’t a girlie pink or a boyish blue, it was a color that rebelled.
I immediately grabbed my diary so I could write my life down in purple ink. Somehow it seemed that purple would make what I wrote down more exciting, like I was writing a Broadway musical.
But I guess he took one trip too many because he never showed up after the last one. That was nine months ago. After that, it seemed like a sadness fell over my mother that she never could shake. I was different. He disappeared right out of my life like a cruel magic trick and I didn’t know how to bring him back, so I learned how to live without him, how to block my heart.
After he left it didn’t seem appropriate to write in purple ink anymore, so I just wrote in black and blue because that’s how I felt inside, all bruised up. When I really wanted to spill my guts, I wrote in red. So when Mom told me that I had to spend the summer with my relatives in Ohio, my diary looked more like a bloody crime scene than a field of lavender.
The first month after my dad left, Mom would jump when the telephone rang and answer it on the first ring, hoping it was him. But it never was. As time passed, she gave up answering the phone altogether because no one ever called except bill collectors. Lately when she smiled, she had a stare that looked far beyond me. The darkness that sometimes strangled her for days at a time had taken a stronger hold of her, and now she was sending me away for the summer because of it. Of course she didn’t say it was because of that, but I knew. I knew deep down in my heart and I was afraid for her. I was afraid for myself.
One of my earliest memories of my parents together was at our house. We were in the back yard sitting on a blanket, having a picnic. My mom sang to me while she brushed my hair, and I blew dandelion puffs at my dad. But that was a long time ago, and I knew he was gone for good.
Now, as Mom backed out of the driveway, I took one last look at our house. It was no longer a home, but an empty, sad place.
“I don’t understand why I have to spend the whole summer away,” I said to Mom as we hit the road. “I won’t get to hang out with my friends.” I said friends but Lisa was my only friend. We were The Loners and didn’t fit in with the cool people.
“Plus, I won’t be able to swim on the team.”
“They have a pool. Besides, this is a good year for you to visit your cousins. On the Fourth of July, there will be an extra special celebration because of the bicentennial.”
“They have fireworks here, too, Mom.” I was having what my mom called an “attitude problem.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with your Dad being gone. I have to figure some things out.” She paused. She rarely spoke about him to me anymore. “Besides, your aunt and uncle agreed to take care of you and that’s final.”