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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Take Me to the River by Will Hobbs

Remember those articles in Reader’s Digest that were called “Drama in Real Life?” This is such a story in novel form, and it has the same excitement appeal.

Two teen boy cousins meet up in Texas to run the Rio river with the first teen’s dad. Plans run aground when Rio, the Texas cousin, fails to tell Dylan, the Carolina cousin, that his dad had to go to Alaska to guide a river expedition.

The boys decide to run some of the river alone. Unexpectedly, U.S. military helicopters fly over them at the outset, and this foreshadows more ominous events: getting stuck in a hurricane, flooding river, and an encounter with one of Mexico’s 10 most wanted who happens to have kidnapped a little boy.

It’s a good man vs. nature story and age-appropriate.

My first caution would be for younger or sensitive tweens. I don’t think a threatening man brandishing a gun is too much excitement, but it might disturb some tweens that a newspaper article the boys read before the trip refers to 3 men beheaded in Mexico due to the drug cartels. There is also a reference to the bandit they run into and how he and his cohorts shot a couple judges and their clerks in the mountains. It wasn’t graphic. The judge who was the boy’s father survived, which was a good outcome for this age reader.

I would discuss the issue of lying. The boys had opportunities to tell the truth and know that they should have checked with their parents, but decide to go river running alone anyway. To their credit, they own up to their choice, admit that silence can be a lie, and pay some consequences. And they take it like men. I would note, though, that the excitement of the rescue of the little boy seemed to outshine the serious consequences of lying. I don’t think that was the intended message of the author, as I pointed out to my tweens: how else would the author have gotten the boys alone on the river in a hurricane? We couldn’t think of anything believable. Still, it’s worthy of discussing how lies break relationship: with people and more importantly, with God. You could argue that that point was a little “whitewashed” by the events of the story. Events, which were, incidentally, a fun ride.


See: Catechism of the Catholic Church: 24852483


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