RIVER, SING OUT
Jonah Hargrove is celebrating his thirteenth birthday by avoiding his abusive father, when a girl named River stumbles into his yard, injured and alone. The teenager has stolen thousands of dollars’ worth of meth from her murderous, drug-dealing boyfriend, but lost it somewhere in the Neches River bottoms during her escape. Jonah agrees to help her find and sell the drugs so she can flee East Texas.
Chasing after them is John Curtis, a local drug kingpin and dog fighter, as well as River’s boyfriend, the dangerous Dakota Cade.
Each person is keeping secrets from the others—deadly secrets that will be exposed in violent fashion as all are forced to come to terms with their choices, their circumstances, and their own definition of God.
With a colorful cast of supporting characters and an unflinching violence juxtaposed against lyrical prose, River, Sing Out dives deep into the sinister world of the East Texas river bottoms, where oppressive poverty is pitted against the need to believe in something greater than the self.
PRAISE FOR RIVER, SING OUT
”With echoes of Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy (and perhaps a smidge of Flannery O’Connor), River, Sing Out is a beautiful, brutal meditation on survival and love in the face of nearly unspeakable violence and depravity in an East Texas community ravaged by the meth trade. Taut, lyrical, and precise, the prose soars in this important new novel by James Wade.” —Elizabeth Wetmore, New York Times bestselling author of Valentine
”If you read one novel this year, make it this one. James Wade’s River, Sing Out, is an instant classic filled with characters that will break your heart, lyrical prose as haunted as the river it evokes, and a Southern Noir undertow that wholly sucks you in and keeps you turning the pages until it’s searing, masterful conclusion.” —May Cobb, author of The Hunting Wives
”Wade, whose striking debut, All Things Left Wild (2020), traveled back a century in Texas history, uses an unlikely friendship to explore an equally wild present-day landscape…A haunting fable of an impossible relationship fueled by elemental need and despair.” —Kirkus Reviews
Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review. The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copy used in this review is an advanced reader copy sent to me in exchange for my honest review. #partner #LSBBT
River, Sing Out is a recently published novel that takes you on a journey through drugs, poverty, abuse, and relationships. This high-stakes novel is based in East Texas River bottoms. The story begins with a thought-provoking epilogue before diving into the introduction of John Curtis and his act of redemption. We then are introduced to Jonah Hargrove and later Cade and River. We get a chance to get to know each character as their stories are written from their perspective. As the novel progresses, you feel as though you are transported into the mind of each character, noting that the narrators are the characters themselves. The story continues to unfold in a method that has you both feeling sad and sorry for the characters involved. We get to watch as each character’s lives start to entangle and secrets start to be revealed. Who will leave this situation unscathed and will they ever truly escape? You are left with many thoughts after reading this book.
The author’s writing style continuously allowed the reader to be encapsulated by the total storyline and engaged from page to page. The book gives off a gritty, motel 6, a drug deal gone bad vibe that has you hoping it gets adopted as a tv show. The twists and turns have you on the edge of your seat waiting to find out the outcome of the souls who were mixed up with the wrong crowd. Surprisingly, this book reminded me a bit of my childhood and the challenges that can arise when children get mixed up in Adult choices. My father was a drug addict and no one ever depicts the humanistic aspect of the addict itself and focuses on describing their characteristics. For me, this novel brought back a bit of nostalgia. The author does a great job with the descriptive text, writing style, transitional scenes, and character development. I highly encourage everyone to pick up this novel. You won’t regret it. One being, for every action there is a reaction and for every reaction, there is a potential consequence.
I highly encourage this fast-read novel for any adult interested in a gritty, Texas-sized, high-stakes, action-packed novel that will keep you both entertained and on the edge of your seat awaiting the next move. Due to the violent scenes, sexual content, and language, I recommend this book for Young Adults and up. This book may contain content that could potentially be triggering for those who have experienced drug abuse in their past.
James Wade lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country with his wife and daughter. He is the author of All Things Left Wild, which is a winner of the 2016 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest, a winner of the 2021 Spur Award for Best Historical Fiction, and a winner of the 2021 Reading the West Award for Best Debut Novel. His fiction has appeared in various literary journals and magazines.