About the book:
Title: Moon River
Author: Amber D. Tran
Published: September 17th 2016 by Amber D. Tran
Source: received from the Author, in exchange for a review
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.
I took my time in writing this review, especially because I don’t often give 2 stars to the books I read. So I did my best to put on paper the good and the bad things.
We follow the life of Abigail Kavanagh since the age of 9, with her struggles to make friends, talk to the boy she likes and even understanding some important life aspects. The tone of the writing gradually evolves, as Abigail grows up, and we only get to see her perspective. The reader will be able to feel the changes in our main character’s personality, throughout the tone of the narration.
Abigail has had a crush on Ryan since the moment she saw him. I could very much relate to that innocent feeling and those pure emotions, as I also had a crush at that age. Most of the actions and reactions in this book are very close to reality, but even having this in mind, I had some hard time with it.
I liked how the author managed to present the story strictly with what Abigail could know or understand. We don’t get to understand the reasons behind Ryan’s sudden change, as she only has some vague ideas. While this is an excellent point for Amber’s writing style (it must be difficult to refrain from disclosing stuff about the other characters), for me it was hard to put some pieces together and I feel that there is a big gap in the story.
I was not very comfortable with how developed these kids were. They were talking sex at a very young age. There was a bullying scene I did not enjoy at all (cannot describe because of spoilers) and as well a scene where parents encouraged inappropriate behavior. And speaking of parents, I would have wanted to see them more involved in the education of their sons and daughters. But then again, maybe this was one of the points this book wants to show: parents should pay more attention to what their kids are doing.
The main character was not to my liking either. I felt she wanted so much to be accepted that she turned out to be a victim of her so called friends. She was manipulated and used, but she was always the nice girl and good friend. There were also moments when I got really tired and could not wait to finish the book.
Even if “Moon River” has not received a big score from me, I do believe Amber D. Tran is a great author. I would read more books by her, just that this one was not for me, or to my taste.
Let me know your opinion in the comments below, as usual J
About the Author
Born and raised in the heart of the Appalachia, Amber spent her childhood growing up on gravel roads and playing Pokémon Red on her Game Boy Color. At the age of 10, she discovered her fascination with creative writing and turned a 1-page homework assignment into a 35-page document for her 5th grade teacher. Less than a year later, she wrote her very first book about a female basketball player with leukemia. She will spare you the pain from having to read it.
After graduating Magna Cum Laude from West Virginia University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a concentration in creative writing, Amber moved to northern Alabama. She married her husband after meeting him in a Dragon Ball Z chat room. She is currently employed as a senior technical writer and Scrum Master for a software company. In her free time, she enjoys playing League of Legends and discovering dive bars with her girlfriends.
She is featured in Calliope, Sonic Boom Journal, HeartWood Literary Magazine, Speculative 66, Blue Stoat, and Spry Literary Journal. Her novel Moon River was released in September. Her essay “Saltwater” will be featured in the upcoming anthology This Bridge Called Language, available in print in 2017.
Amber currently lives in Alabama with her husband and two dogs, Ahri and Ziggs.
You can find the author on her website, or using her Twitter handler amberdtran