Denver Oakley’s world has changed. Her hometown is becoming a ghost town due to ever-burning fires underneath the town: an incident related to the town’s coal-mining history. Denver’s parents were murdered and she and her best friends are all headed in separate directions. Feeling lost and alone, Denver steps on a bus headed for anywhere. She finally lands in Isabel Beach, North Carolina. Determined to put her past behind her, Denver slowly begins making a life for herself. Her past comes back to her, though, when she receives a letter from her friend, Josh, asking her to meet him in Adena. Denver must decide if she will face her past or let it haunt her forever.
Deep River Burning is a novel by author Donelle Dreese and it is a wonderfully written novel about coming to terms with one’s past. The author has created a great character in Denver. She is the quintessential young adult – confused about who she is, what she wants and afraid to start living her life. When her parents’ death gives Denver the push she needs to leave Adena, she does her best to forget her past and where she came from. She gradually learns that the past will always be part of her and that acknowledging and accepting it is the only way she can move forward. The writing is descriptive, lyrical and draws the reader in with the first chapter. The descriptions in the book are vivid and Denver’s world comes alive for the reader. The supporting characters are all well written, particularly that of Denver’s friend Josh and a minister she befriends in Isabel Beach by the name of Father Allen. The resolution Denver finds is satisfying for the reader and brings a nice catharsis to the story. Deep River Burning is a book to savor – it is not to be read quickly. Fans of coming-of-age novels will enjoy this book.
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