Reviewed by Kristin
Winifred Allen is hesitant about taking a whitewater rafting trip into Maine’s Allagash Wilderness. She likes her ten or twenty laps at the pool, but is a bit unsure about her ability to survive in the middle of nowhere with three middle aged friends. Adventurous Pia is always up for a challenge, and she urges Wini, Rachel and Sandra to take the plunge as well. After a quick and expensive trip to REI, an outdoor gear store, Wini is ready to join the group on their adventure.
20-year-old Rory is their guide. Confident from years on the river and in the woods, he begins teaching the women what they need to know, and then shoves the raft off the riverbank into the swirling waters. The women have known each other for years, and soon are dipping their oars, leaning when Rory says “Lean!” and tumbling over their first rapids. As the day goes on, Wini and the others become more comfortable and relaxed.
The trip is turning into a great adventure until an accident brings the group to a crashing halt. Suddenly the women have to call upon their scant survival skills and work together to make their way back to civilization. A light in the darkness beckons, but is it their salvation, or will it be their destruction?
The thread of this story rushed along as quickly as the waters of the river. Erica Ferencik uses the constant motion of the river to maintain a sense of urgency as the stakes grow higher. I kept turning pages and reading just one more chapter, even late into the night. The characters are well drawn and compelling; the relationships between the women are tested as the story continues its heart pounding pace. As the women wander further into the wilderness, outside stresses make them question each other’s motives and who they can trust.
I do my best not to judge a book by the cover, but the artwork on the hardback edition is very fitting to the story. The words of the title are surrounded by splashes of water, going behind, in front of, and through the letters. This is one book that I definitely enjoyed from cover to cover. This is Ferencik’s debut novel and I hope that we can expect many more adventures from her.