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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 30, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Shenandoah Wilson and Jane Woodrow are 12 year old twin girls living in West Virginia with the Honorable Judge Walter Carmody and his Northern wife, Evelyn. Or at least until a year before when Evelyn went missing, leaving Woody(Jane Woodrow)terrified and mute, Shen(Shenandoah)protective and bewildered, and their father a drunken mess. Shen takes it upon herself to find out what has happened to her mother with the aid of many mysterious characters inciting a grand plot of intrigue and suspense. Carmody's have money and as they say, "it talks." The powerfulness of her father, her Grandpa, her Gramma and her Uncle Blackie plague her search, but she is made of tenacity and grit. I am loathe to say more as it might give some mystery away and I want the reader to have the pure pleasure of uncovering their own clues and their own solutions.

I didn't know what to expect when I started this book, but it was an unputdownable mystery. Shen and Woody are two characters that will go down with the likes of Scout, Harry Potter, Button, Ellen Foster, and other time honored children protagonists. Lesley Kagan gives them magnificent form which is truthful, baring their strengths and weaknesses. The background of the Blue Ridge mountains and Southern folks is essential to the plot. The title "Tomorrow River" has such a beautiful conception it brought tears to my eyes.

There is some brutality of children so beware; I relate deeply to this plotline, but others may shy from it. The remaining love of a less than stellar parent touched me deeply. Lesley Kagan is especially thoughtful in her presentation with beautifully descriptive, fast-paced and page turning prose that honestly garners her "Tomorrow River "it's 5 star rating.

An aside; the cover is absoultely gorgeous.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )

I was delighted when VINE offered this book. Having read WHISTLING IN THE DARK and having yet to read LAND OF A HUNDERED WONDERS, I grabbed this one up. And am I glad that I did.

We meet 11 year old twins, Shenny and Woody, who live in a grand house named Lilyfield. Their young lives are full of family and love until one evening their mother disappears. Things take several turns for the worse, and their lives become a living hell.

After their mother's mysterious disapperance, Woody stops speaking. Their father, the Honorable Judge Walter Carmody, takes to drink and turns mean and abusive towards his daughters whom he once loved so dearly. Shenny vows to take care of Woody and protect her from their father and his father, their evil grandfather. Shenny also decides that no matter what she will find her mother and solve the mystery of her disapperance. Is her beloved mother dead? Has she run away? Is she in hiding somewhere? Has she taken off for parts unknown? Read this book and find out.

Shenny takes it upon her self to investigate the circumstances surrounding their mom's disapperance. She is a good little detective, getting help from their neighbor boy, E.J. who happens to be madly in love with Woody. The two kids find themselves in predicament after predicament as they get closer to finding out the truth. People aren't who they appear to be and the facts are not necessarily the facts. Tension and surprises abound as we find out who knows the truth and what took place that fateful night.

The characters in this book are very fleshed-out and life-like. The writing is so exceptionally good the reader can smell the fresh air of the Blue Ridge Mountains, see the flowers, be lounging in the tree house fort with the twins, jumping over the rocks in the creek, and savor the taste of Vera's root beer floats.

Ms. Kagen's use of the English language is hilarious. The remarks and comments made by all the characters are so funny. This book is full of humor, mystery, suspense, heartache, love, and many, many twists and turns. This reader never knew what to expect! And when I thought I had finally figured out what was going to happen, I found out I was totally wrong and pleasantly surprised. This is a book that made me laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time!!!

Shenny and Woody are two characters you will think about for a long time. The twins are so similar and yet so different. Each of them is dealing with the loss of their mother in totally different ways. Shenny has to take charge and that she does.

There are some unpleasant and abusive scenes regarding the twins that may be upsetting to some readers. However, don't let this stop you from reading this wonderful book as abuse is NOT the main genre.

This book is a total winner and comes highly recommended.

Thank you.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Kagan has written a terrible tale of loyalty, betrayal and murder, twin sisters in the Shenandoah Valley coping in their own ways with the disappearance of their mother the summer of 1968. Now it is the following summer and Woody has been mute since that night, unwilling or unable to speak, maybe carrying secrets that no child should ever harbor. Shenny Carmody is the more practical of the two, at twelve a self-professed "daddy's girl" who finds excuses for her father's increasing cruelty towards his daughters. She pities her father's condition, even the drunken rants, sympathetic to his emotional pain. A powerful judge, this man is not to be trifled with, especially for a peacemaker like Shenny. Ordered not to leave the grounds of Lilyfield, Shenny leads the girls on secret excursions to town, where she pieces together bits of information, certain that she will find her mother.

As the judge becomes more unpredictable and more violent, Shenny allows herself to consider the precariousness of their situation. With a domineering, openly racist grandfather and an irascible Uncle Blackie nearby, the circle is closing in, His Honor threatening to send Woody away to an institution. Against this background, Kagan fashions her story through the perceptions of a twelve-year-old girl, balancing between the past and she clings to and the reality of what she fears is the truth. Protecting Woody, finding their mother and appeasing their father has become an impossible task. And as the memories emerge through the long summer days, so does Shenny's awareness of her own willful blindness.

Though at times it is torturous to follow the reasoning of this conflicted young character, Kagan restricts the pace of the story to what is believable in the context of Shenny's imagination. The result is a harrowing mix of family dysfunction and real danger, the idyllic life of twin sisters destroyed the night of their mother's disappearance. When Shenny learns that wishing cannot make a wrong thing right, she crosses the invisible line from childhood to the darker world of adults with an enormous amount of courage and a surprising talent for forgiveness. In this lush country, where power and privilege isolate the girls from reality, ugly secrets flourish in the dark, a harsh reckoning with fate inevitable. Luan Gaines/2010.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2010
This book was slow for me to get into. I liked the voice of the child narrator but there was a bit too much "hillbilly charm" to it. Her images and idioms are wonderful but after awhile it all began to grate. My biggest objection is that the plot was hollow and the revelations at the end were all too easy and quick (and predictable). It was like the author was having a wonderful time developing her characters but couldn't take the time to find a plot for them to work in.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2010
a masterpiece. atmospheric, in the style of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, absorbing plot and characters.

shenny, an 11 year-old twin attempts to find her mother and find out why her twin has not spoken since her disappearance a year ago.

this is a story that will leave you on the edge of your seat with equal parts suspense, horror and humor. beautifully done. a treasure with some unexpected twists that i never saw coming. a treasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have trouble getting into some books--they just don't beckon me to pick them up every day. This one was not one of those. From the day I started Tomorrow River, I was swept up into this story, which is part family saga, part heartbreaking drama, part light comedy and part mystery. I love a story with a little of everything, and this most definitely delivered.

Without a doubt, the character that stood out the most was Shenny (Shenandoah), one of a set of pre-teen twin girls who are the story's main characters. While Shenny and Woody are twins, they are very different people. Woody is artistic and emotionally sensitive/fragile, while Shenny is bolder, tougher and most definitely mouthier! :) Shenny is a big personality, and most of the comedic moments of the book come from her observations about the people who inhabit her town in Virginia or her own family. Let's just say that if Shenny lived by the motto "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything," she wouldn't have much to say! :)

The writing is very homespun. There are lots of folky sayings, the type of which you may have heard from your Grandma, especially if you are from the South. I thought the book was very well written and enjoyed how the author brought her characters to life. I must admit that the places in the story never quite came to life for me the way the people did, but the characters are definitely well-drawn.

I loved the fierceness of Shenny's character...her fierce love for her parents (loving her abusive father well past the point when most readers will be able to understand it), her fierce devotion and protectiveness of her weaker twin, and her fierce determination to find her missing mother. You can't help but admire her.

I was reminded of other books as I read this--most especially The Secret Life of Bees (in that both Lily and Shenny had missing mamas and abusive daddies and they both go in search of their mothers)--but also a little bit of The Help, in regard to the time period and the racial culture of the time, etc.

The derivative nature of the book--the fact that it kept reminding me of other books--took my rating down just a notch. What mostly took my rating from 5 to 4 stars (since Amazon doesn't allow me to give it 4 1/2 stars) is that I felt my eyes rolling toward the end, when everything gets wrapped up in a nice shiny package with a big fluffy bow. I'm not saying that how things came out couldn't happen, just that the transition between the rest of the book (which is NOT a happy story for the most part) and the ending (which is fairy tale happy) felt too abrupt to me.

Still highly recommend...a good read and a fast read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 19, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This story is told from the perspective of an 11 year old girl (with an indentical twin sister) who lives in the depth of old Southern conservative times in the 1960's. Shenny is a bright, intuitive, and fairly open minded inquisitive girl who is challenged by the standards of the time and era that she lives in. I loved hearing the story based on her thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. I thought the author did an amazing job at being entertaining, adventurous, spunky, insightful beyond her years, and yet still capturing the immaturity and vulnerability of being a young child. The story is really good, so I don't want to give away any details at all. I will say that you will really feel like you were brought back in time, to a time that I am so glad I did not have to live through. There was so much suppression and inequality, prejudiced respect, societal indifference-the have and have-nots, and blatant horrific descrimination. I moved to NC from NY 6 years ago and though I didn't think it was possible, there is still much of this judgement and descrimination going on, overwhelming conservative opinioned persons, bible culture, and prejudice. We've come a long way, but there is still a long way for some of us to travel. I very highly recommend this very, very good book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 2, 2011
Eleven-year-old Shenandoah Carmody's life turned upside a year ago, when her beloved mother disappeared. Not only did Shenny lose her, but the rest of her family as well - after that day, her twin sister Jane Woodrow stopped talking, and their father turned to drinking and violence. Louise, the teenage housekeeper he hired to look after the girls, is more concerned with meeting her boyfriend than dealing with chores and unruly kids.

So, Shen decides, it's up to her and Woody to find their mother, or at least uncover what really happened. Besides the problem of seemingly having no real leads, Shen's dilemma is further complicated by her father's having forbidden the twins to leave the property.

Yet despite her best intentions, Shen very quickly discovers that sometimes painful situations are best left untouched. But once she begins to uncover the truth - learning things about her family she never dreamed of - it's impossible to go back to the way things once were.

As always, Kagan weaves a suspenseful and consistently intriguing story, with a believable and likeable narrator.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 7, 2010
This is a GREAT story. I have read all of Lesely's books and enjoyed them, but in my opinion, this is her best work. She truly captures the emotions of the twin sisters as they try to solve the puzzle of their missing Mother, and endure the hardships placed upon them by their troubled Father--and twisted evil Grandparents and Uncle. The books has some outstanding support characters and a great ending. Kudos to Lesley--and I hope you've started your next book!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2012
Many times throughout the novel I thought I had the story all figured out - not! There were places I felt that it was a little slow, only to find a new twist unfolding. I loved that about this story. The two girls are so endearing throughout their horrible circumstances, and I loved the richness of the characters. A good story with more than a few good mantras for life.
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