Source: Around the World ARC Tours
The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area stretches across two million acres in northern Idaho. In its heart sits the Alice Marshall School, where fifty teenage girls come to escape their histories and themselves. Lida Wallace has tried to negate herself in every way possible. At Alice Marshall, she meets Elsa Boone, a fierce native Idahoan; Jules, who seems too healthy to belong at the school; and Gia Longchamps, whose glamour entrances the entire camp. As the girls prepare for a wilderness trek, Lida is both thrilled and terrified to be chosen as Gia's friend. But everyone has their secrets--their "Things" they try to protect; and when those come out, the knives do as well.
Parents are too easily frightened by the world their children live in. We have to protect them from harm, keep them safe as long as we can, no matter how we feel about them. It's our duty. I didn't know this going in, but I do now.Lida is a very interesting character from page one. Ms. Saldin does a really fantastic job showing us her journey without revealing too much along the way. The reader is strung along with glimpses of what's going on in Lida's head and in her life. The "Epilogue" sections that pop up every so often allude to a BIG event that we haven't experienced yet as the reader. I really enjoyed what these sections added to the story--they added an element of and a reminder that the story we're reading is really a personal reflection of what happened to Lida at Alice Marshall.
That's the thing about secrets. Sometimes you have to keep the sharpest things hidden.The girls that Lida meets at Alice Marshall are equally intriguing. Boone, Gia, Jules...they each play an interesting role in the story. From the beginning, I felt like Jules was someone worth knowing and I found myself wishing that Lida would accept her friendship and open up. Boone was the "bad girl" that you couldn't help but liking. She was very real and unafraid to be herself. She was definitely tough, but I felt like she was willing to help Lida learn to open up and be herself. It was upsetting that Lida couldn't see that. And then there's Gia. Gia is difficult to trust (as the reader) from the beginning. She's too beautiful and too seemingly "put together" to be showing us who she really is. Lida clearly takes a bit of a romantic interest in her, but Gia isn't willing to return the friendship in the same way. She seems to be someone looking to validate parts of herself through Lida (and others).
Sometimes the line between love and desperation is damn thin. ... You just have to hope you don't have a knife in your hand when you figure it out.In the end, this book was on a bit of a "sliding scale" for me. When I first started, I had so much trouble getting into it that I was convinced that this was going to be a three star book. As I started to get into the story and the personalities, I felt that it had redeemed itself into a solid four star book. But the end--the end was a 5-star wrap-up that was emotionally satisfying without being TOO cheesy. It was a perfect blend of redemption without getting rid of the "mess." So, there you have it, I'll give this one a solid four. Give it a try and be sure to stick around through the beginning if you're having trouble. This one is DEFINITELY worth your time. It's descriptive, highly visual writing will potentially lose some readers, but the personalities of its characters and their paths toward redemption are worth immersing yourself in. For now, I'll leave you with this, something I consider the unifying theme in this novel...
Forgiveness is a work in progress.