American River: Tributaries: Book One of the American River Trilogy

American River: Tributaries: Book One of the American River Trilogy

by Mallory M. O'Connor

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Overview

In the mid-1800s, three immigrant familiesIrish, Japanese, and Mexicansettle along the American River in Northern California. A century later, only one family remains.

Owen McPhalans Mockingbird Valley Ranch is still a thriving family business in 1959. But when his wife, Marian, leaves Mockingbird to follow her dream of becoming a successful artist, she ignites a firestorm that impacts the descendants of all three families. As artists, musicians, writers, and politicians inherit their immigrant parents hopes, they are torn apart by ambition, prejudice, and deception while struggling through the turbulent 1960s. From the concert halls of Europe to Kyotos ancient avenues, and Manhattans artists lofts to San Franciscos North Beach, they each learn the price they must pay in order to realize their dreams. But just as the river is drawn to the sea, they eventually find themselves pulled back to the place that forged the original link between their destiniesa place called Mockingbird.

American River: Tributaries follows three California families as the descendants of Irish, Japanese, and Mexican immigrants embark on unique journeys to pursue their dreams amid an unsettled 1960s world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480848689
Publisher: Archway Publishing
Publication date: 06/29/2017
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 394
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Mallory M. OConnor holds degrees in art, art history, and American history from Ohio University. For twenty years, she taught art history at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College. She was also a feature writer for Business to Business magazine and authored two nonfiction books. Now retired, she resides in Micanopy, Florida.

Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Genre: Historical Fiction

American River: Tributaries follows the lives of three families of Irish, Mexican, and Japanese descent. Though their ancestors all settled on the American River in Northern California, the generations following spread out across the country, making the families' interconnection all the more unlikely. But as the characters' lives overlap and collide, they undergo tremendous growth and are opened to new levels of understanding of each other, of life, and of themselves.

The story follows all the members of the three families and the changes that time brings them. For the McPhalans, things are changing on the Mockingbird Valley Ranch as the children are growing up, the adults are growing old, and the family is growing apart. The Ashida family, who work for the McPhalans, have their own struggles as they cope with being one of two Japanese families in the area, just over a decade after being released from internment camps. Familial relationships are even more strained in the Morales family, a Mexican-American, interracial family who is divided because of the resentments and grudges they cling to.

As the years go by, the families become more intertwined and their relationships become more complicated. Each character's introduction and individual story is engaging, and their involvement in other characters' lives is seamless and natural. Though there are many, the characters are thoroughly developed and perfectly imperfect. Their flaws are raw and real, often speaking to the time period they live in. With a diverse group of characters of various cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, and economic statuses, O'Connor tackles discrimination, homophobia, and sexism in a way that is tasteful but stays true to the difficult and complex situations the characters face.

The plot is extremely fluid and the writing is well-executed; the various storylines are never confusing and perfectly align with each other, while the simple, but artistic, language sets a distinct mood and voice for each character. The scenes were never information-heavy and always contributed to the development and escalation of the plot. The tragic ending that unites the three families reminds us that despite our differences, unity and love overcome even the most stubborn prejudices.

At the beginning of the book, there is a "Cast of Characters" section which lists all the characters in the book, as well as a brief description of them. Though it seems helpful, the inclusion of this list of characters actually hinders the reader's experience. In fact, one of the descriptions in the character list includes a minor spoiler that would have been better off left for the readers to uncover at their own pace.

In addition, including a section like this emulates a lack of confidence on the author's part of her ability to clearly organize the story so that each character is distinct and memorable enough for the reader to keep track of them, thus needing to reference the character list. However, the list and the accompanying descriptions were unnecessary because, for O'Connor, her characters' voices, personalities, and lifestyles were so unique, memorable, and engaging that it was nearly impossible to forget them or their role in the novel.

Filled with descriptions of the beauty and grace of some of the United States' greatest cities and areas, American River: Tributaries is a true American story. As it delves into the realities of the various divides Americans coped with in the sixties, readers will be rooting for O'Connor's characters as they navigate the difficult spaces their identities attempt to force them into. AR: Tributaries is the perfect start to a series about family, pain, love, identity, and life in America.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Excerpted from "American River: Tributaries"
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Copyright © 2018 Mallory M. O'Connor.
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