All Rivers Flow to the Sea

All Rivers Flow to the Sea

4.5 7
by Alison McGhee
     
 

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"McGhee writes confidently as one who remembers the ordinariness of adolescence as well as its angst . . . and compellingly creates a protagonist blindsided by loss." — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

For seventeen-year-old Rose, it keeps happening — the car crash. The car crash that put her sister, Ivy, in a coma with only a

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Overview

"McGhee writes confidently as one who remembers the ordinariness of adolescence as well as its angst . . . and compellingly creates a protagonist blindsided by loss." — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

For seventeen-year-old Rose, it keeps happening — the car crash. The car crash that put her sister, Ivy, in a coma with only a respirator keeping her alive. While Rose tries to find support from her reticent mother, distraction from the series of boys she meets at the town’s gorge at night, and empathy from her neighbor William T., what she really needs must come from within herself — a release of what’s been welling up inside. Heartrending, honest, and ultimately hopeful, this is the tale of a teenager overwhelmed by trauma and loss, yet steadied by loyal friendship and the solace of first love.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rose gets through life 15 minutes at a time since the accident that left her sister, Ivy, comatose. As fine points of the car crash slowly emerge, Rose's confusion with life builds. From wondering about the whereabouts of her absent father to having sex at the Sterns Gorge with Jimmy Wilson and other boys in their small town, just to feel something ("I hurt. My body hurts. The hurt feels good; it feels alive-and then that too is gone"), Rose talks to Ivy continually. At first, the disconcerting second-person style effectively puts Rose at arm's length from readers, but the narrative quickly shifts to first-person, and the moment of transition feels almost like a pep talk ("Jimmy Wilson, next to you, isn't looking at you. Jimmy Wilson, next to me, isn't looking at me. It's me, Jimmy, me. Rose"). By the end of the first chapter, the cadence of the words flows smoothly, and readers vicariously experience the claustrophobic quarters of Rose's mind. McGhee writes confidently as one who remembers the ordinariness of adolescence as well as its angst, especially the need to focus on details when one is in deep pain. As in Snap and Shadow Baby, the author compellingly creates another protagonist blindsided by loss. Rose draws a parallel between the last seconds before the crash and the moments before Pompeii was destroyed, as she struggles to make the loss of her sister comprehensible in a world that often is not. Ages 14-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
Without once descending to sentimentality or melodrama, this novel manages to reveal 17-year-old Rose Latham's pain at being the driver of the car in an accident that put her older sister Ivy in a coma. Forced to leave Ivy's bedside and return to school, Rose focuses on putting one foot in front of the other and showing a stoic face to the world. The prose at the beginning of the novel reflects her struggle in short, declarative sentences reminiscent of a Dick and Jane reader. As her encounters grow more complex, so does the prose. Rose seeks to find relief from pain with meaningless sexual encounters. She wants to maintain her numbness because the pain and guilt are unendurable. Yet she is blessed with friends who eventually help to carry the load of her grief. They are wonderful, quirky characters who offer solace with laconic charm and dry wit. This is one of those rare books that somehow manages to express the inexpressible. It rips the scabs off wounds to show the bleeding underneath. Perhaps this book would be good bibliotherapy, but those who have experienced recent loss may find it too difficult. Certainly, it offers a window into the process of grieving useful for those who must stand and watch to understand. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Candlewick, 176p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Myrna Marler
KLIATT - Myrna Marler
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, November 2005: Without once descending to sentimentality or melodrama, this novel manages to reveal 17-year-old Rose Latham's pain at being the driver of the car in an accident that put her older sister Ivy in a coma. Forced to leave Ivy's bedside and return to school, Rose focuses on putting one foot in front of the other and showing a stoic face to the world. The prose at the beginning of the novel reflects her struggle in short, declarative sentences reminiscent of a Dick and Jane reader. As her encounters grow more complex, so does the prose. Rose seeks to find relief from pain with meaningless sexual encounters. She wants to maintain her numbness because the pain and guilt are unendurable. Yet she is blessed with friends who eventually help to carry the load of her grief. They are wonderful, quirky characters who offer solace with laconic charm and dry wit. This is one of those rare books that somehow manage to express the inexpressible. It rips the scabs off wounds to show the bleeding underneath. Perhaps this book would be good bibliotherapy, but those who have experienced recent loss may find it too difficult. Certainly, it offers a window into the process of grieving useful for those who must stand and watch to understand. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Sisters Ivy and Rose have shared secrets, attended high school together, and always been there for one another. Ivy, 18, has always been the free spirit, while Rose, 17, has always been the grounded one. When they are involved in an accident from which Ivy never recovers, Rose has to learn how to piece life back together without her. The story is a stark interweaving of the present and pre-accident events, and while it is not lengthy, it still captures a full range of emotion and turmoil before reaching a resolution. At times, McGhee's recurring, "Ivy and I had an accident. It was dusk in the Adirondacks that night, and we were coming around a curve" seems oppressive. However, as the story progresses, more is added to those two lines, leading to the discovery of what has occurred and how the characters' lives were altered. Rose's mother refuses to let Ivy go, but never visits the nursing home where she remains on life support. She won't talk about the accident, and is emotionally unavailable to Rose. Ivy's boyfriend finally makes an appearance, which shatters the ambivalence that has surrounded the accident for so long. Rose's main support is found through the family neighbor, William T., who drives her to the nursing home every day, while offering bits of spiritual wisdom and guidance. Rose seeks out sexual relationships in order to feel again-even if that feeling is hurt. While readers struggle along with Rose, they will gain a new perspective about the importance of family and of the grieving process.-Emily Garrett, Naaman Forest High School, Garland, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rose and her older sister, Ivy, were in a car accident one dusky evening in the Adirondack Mountains near their home. Since then, Ivy has been in an unresponsive coma while Rose struggles to understand how life can keep moving without her sister. Haunted by memories of the accident, Rose tries to conceal her pain with promiscuity, only to realize that this makes her feel worse about herself. Fortunately, William T., her neighbor, and Tom Miller, a childhood friend, watch out for Rose's emotional well-being, especially since her mother lives in denial, impotently focused on making thousands of paper cranes instead of visiting Ivy. By the end, Rose is able to let Ivy go after realizing that she, unlike her sister who was like moving water, draws strength from her own inner, still waters-or reservoir-of love and memories. McGhee does a fine job of capturing the grief associated with losing a sibling at a young age, allowing readers to feel acutely Rose's pain through the intimate first-person narrative. Touching and triumphant. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763633721
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
05/08/2007
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
1,357,480
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.51(d)
Lexile:
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Here is the school bus. Here is the school bus door, chuffing open with its familiar wheeze. Here are the school bus steps. Put your right foot on the bottom one. Haul your left leg up to the next. Here is mean Katie the bus driver, scowling out the big bus window. Here is your backpack, heavy and hurting your shoulders. Where is your sister Ivy who should be behind you, shoving you to hurry up? Ivy is not here. You and your sister had an accident. Now you are on the bus. Walk down the aisle. There's an empty seat. Sit down. Now everyone is on the bus. Now Katie shuts the door and shoves the big black gear stick.

Your first day back is over. The bell that is not a bell has blared, and the school day is over.

Jimmy Wilson is next to you on the old green vinyl seat. Jimmy Wilson, who has been silently in love with you since kindergarten. The bus jolts and bumps and groans and finds its way around the curves of Sterns Gorge. You are back on the bus.

Your sister Ivy and you had an accident.

The world should have stopped, but it didn't.

One month has passed since that day of the accident, the accident that you and your sister were in. One month has passed since that day at the end of March when time plucked you up and set you down again, here in this new place. In that month, Katie the bus driver stopped wearing her Dairylea windbreaker and Jimmy Wilson stopped wearing the fur hat that his uncle brought back from Russia. No more winter boots. No more mittens and scarves. Brown grass is now green. Every class has marched on: Goodbye Romeo and Juliet; hello Hamlet. Goodbye World War II; hello Korea. Goodbye, rudiments of sting theory, and hello chaos complexity.

Your sister Ivy and you had an accident. The world should have stopped, but it didn't. The world kept on going.

_________

ALL RIVERS FLOW TO SEA by Alison McGhee. Copyright (c) 2005 by Alison McGhee. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

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