"The Last River Child" by Lori Ann Bloomfield
Peg Staynor is a young woman growing up as an outsider in the small rural town of Walvern, Ontario at the beginning of the 20th century. She is an outsider because locals believe that Peg is a "river child," who has been taken over by an evil spirit from the Magurvey river that flows through town. Peg is blamed by the locals for every misfortune that hits the town. But Peg refuses to be a victim to their superstitious beliefs and moves on through her life with strength and resilience.
When the reality of the First World War hits Walvern, the towns old world beliefs will be challenged. As the young men of the community return from the War injured, depressed, or not at all, the town finds itself thrown into the realities of modern society. Will their beliefs about Peg begin to change and will she finally find acceptance in the community that has shunned her, but which she has always felt attached to?
The Last River Child is a beautiful story about a young woman in a small Canadian town trying to find her place and stay true to herself while up against the narrow-minded and unfortunate views of those around her. Bloomfield has created a character which the reader will become attached to, hoping that one day others will see her for her beautiful soul.
The book also shows the effects that World War I had on the young men who went off to fight, the families they left behind and the communities they returned to. Bloomfield manages to take large influences such as war and superstition and easily present them through the eyes of one small town girl, giving the reader a more intimate understanding of small town life in the early 20th century. The Last River Child is a beautiful read that I could not put down.
I would like to thank Second Story Press for providing me with a copy of this book for review.