I am a child of the 70s so I was both horrified and thrilled at the prospect of reading Where The River Takes Us: horrified that I'm old enough to be reading a historical novel set during my own lifetime, and thrilled that I was getting to read Lesley's new book months in advance of its publication date (I've adored her other books and she has quickly become an author whose books I get very excited about reading).
Set in the 1970s, I was quickly transported back to my childhood and Lesley has definitely captured the feel of the time authentically with talk of slices of white bread and butter with tea, R. Whites lemonade, newspapers on sale for 3p, the fact the the 1/2p piece was in circulation ... I could go on but it's safe to say that I felt incredibly nostalgic. As well as this, Lesley really captured the essence of the time: children spending time playing on the streets or creating ramps for their bikes instead of being inside on electronics. However, things were tough with the miners out on strike and a three day week had been enforced; as a result, power cuts were a regular thing and money was tight (as I type this, I realise that there is a definite similarity between this and the times in which we currently live). It's no wonder that Richie, still only a teenager, is finding it difficult to make the mortgage payments. He's had to grow up incredibly quickly, not only having to deal with the death of both of his parents, but also taking on the responsibility for his younger brother, Jason. It's clear from the start that he is doing his best, but it just isn't enough in such difficult times - I really felt for him.
Then we have Jason (who I just wanted to reach into the book and cwtsh). The sudden death of both parents has turned his life upside down and, as the book progresses, we really see the effects of this. The story highlights the fact that grief can manifest itself in many different ways and at different times, and I think any child going through anything similar will appreciate seeing how Jason is coping.
I have to also mention Catrin who is such a strong female character. At a time when women and girls were still seen as the weaker sex, she is independent and proves she is as strong as the boys. Lesley has captured the essence of the 1970s perfectly within each of the characters, both in the way they act as well as the way they speak, and this will show readers how far we have come since then,
Where The River Takes Us is a wonderful tale of family, friendship and grief that will captivate readers young and old. Due for release on the 16th March, this is a book that will warm your heart on those cold winter days so I highly recommend jumping on your Chopper and peddling to your nearest book store to pre-order it.
There's just one thing though, Lesley: I've had the biggest ear-worm since reading the book and now can't stop hearing 'Oh you'll never get to heaven ...' Ah the memories that song brought back!
Whether you're a child who wants to dive into a heart-warming adventure, or a grown-up of a 'certain' age who wants to relive their childhood, Where The River Takes Us is the book for you.