A River Divided

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A River Divided is a sweeping, ambitious novel with important messages about the environmental calamities we are continuing to wreak. Book one focuses on Evelyn, a driven scientist who accidentally discovers a hidden ossuary of bones while visiting Israel, not far from the Masada. Instead of alerting the authorities, she digs—and the evidence seems, to her, to point to a single explanation of who was buried there after being crucified. Her former lover, now friend, Michael does not believe her theory, nor can he understand why she, a non-religious person, is so obsessed.

Her obsession only increases as she yearns for a baby. Having located some DNA from the cache, she sets about the business of cloning and persuading Michael, an OB-GYN, to help her. But he wonders whether she wants a child or an experiment. When the cells miraculously divide, there’s an opportunity to create a second, identical twin, but borne by someone else.

Book two focuses on Argentina, where a surrogate mother flees before giving birth to that twin. She names him Jose and keeps him hidden from Michael, who yearly travels to South America in search of the boy, brother to Christopher. Jose is mentored by a scientist who teaches him about injustice and the environment.

The final two books focus on the brothers as young adults and how they oppose one another over a hydroelectric project in the Amazon.

The author, a neuroscientist of some renown who is clearly passionate about environmental causes, is adept at painting word pictures of the natural landscapes of desert and jungle. He also describes the brain with precision, and yet, in a way that is still understandable by the average reader. Images such as when Evelyn “moved the stage of her microscope to different fields of view, she was an astronomer training a telescope on unexplored sky” are lovely.

There’s plenty of suspense in these pages, as the plot travels from Israel to Australia, Greece, Argentina, Rome, and Brazil, where the titular river divides. Will the Masada guards interrupt Evelyn’s labors? Will the cloning work or does she risk carrying a damaged baby? Can her theory possibly be right and, if so, what are the implications for humanity? The cruelties of Argentina’s regime against protestors are as horrendous as those of the clear-cutting practices in the Amazonia.

At the same time, Paxinos is not afraid to dive into deep, important ethical themes of cloning, surrogacy, free will vs. determinism, and injustice. His work will introduce many readers to Christian environmentalism and to the need for us all to strive mightily to save ourselves and our planet from destruction.

Reviewed By:

Author George Paxinos
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 367 pages
Publisher Amazonas Press
Publish Date 31-Oct-2023
ISBN 9798218269913 Buy this Book
Issue October 2023
Category Modern Literature