Reviews for Voice of the River

Booklist Reviews 2011 October #1
Thon's latest haunting and deeply spiritual novel spans one long day in the life of a small, tightly knit community immersed in the search for Kai Dionne, a 17-year-old boy, and his dog. Kai's grandfather finds a hole in the ice on a half-frozen river, and hundreds come to help in the search. Each one has memories of struggles to survive, or of children lost, either literally or figuratively. The searchers are scattered along the river's edge, "each one, alone, borne by faith or fear." Kai's cousin, who flew off his bike two years earlier, has been in a wheelchair ever since. Maybe a homeless man who survived his jump from the West Seattle Bridge, or the one-legged man who pulled Vincent Flute out of his rolled truck just before it exploded, will find Kai and his dog. "Why does anything die?" Thon asks. Who decides which child is pulled from a well, and which drowns in his mother's bathtub? This thought-provoking novel probes those questions, illuminated by the simple acts of humanity that bind Kai's community inextricably together. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews 2011 September #2

A "tattered rag," cowering and half-wild, Talia is rescued from the pound by 17-year-old Kai. He has a touch of the wild himself but loves the dog from the start. One cold February morning, when the two are walking with Kai's grandfather, Theo, Talia chases a squirrel across the river's thin ice, which can't hold her. Kai plunges in after his dog, and the rest of this affecting, lyrically incisive novel by Whiting Award winner Thon (In this Light) takes place during the community's desperate search for the lost companions. It's all told slant, with the stories of searchers and family disclosing an accumulated world of hope and sorrow. Theo recalls when his son went missing, returned home months later by the police; Daniel Sidoti recalls lying broken for 19 hours after his car plunged off a cliff in the dark. We learn of Kai's cousin Tulanie, paralyzed in a bicycle accident; of Kai's divorced parents, his edgy Vietnam vet uncle, and the little girl Kai once loved, now dead. Throughout, the obdurately still world--"river, cloud, birch, aspen"--looks on. VERDICT Heartrending yet never bathetic, this story of loss and love will deeply satisfy most fiction readers.--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Seventeen-year-old Kai Dionne and his dog, Talia, have fallen into a river near their home in rural Montana, through the surface ice into "an open mouth full of black water." This meditative novel unfolds over a single day while Kai and Talia remain missing. Thon (In This Light) moves delicately through the consciousness of those loosely and intimately connected with Kai, including: his mother Lela, his grandfather Theo, his paralyzed cousin Tulanie, deeply depressed neighbor Oleta Esteban (who has lost three children of her own), and a group of adolescent runaways who live in the surrounding wilderness. Her painstakingly wrought sentences coalesce into a well-observed picture of the vagaries of family relationships, with the requisite undercurrents of loss, regret, and forgiveness. However, Thon's intricate language comes at the expense of plot and momentum, and the reader's interest in discovering Kai's fate becomes lost in a free-fall of words. (Sept.)

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