If you have never stood on a mountain top, watched the mist rise and open to a view of a raging waterfall that drops down into a gorge of smooth, flat river water, then Michael Neale can show it to you. His book, The River, is a marvelous journey through one man's life from boyhood to manhood. The use of the river as symbolism is felt from beginning to end, and much like a river flows, never the same from moment to moment or mile to mile, so is the life of Gabriel Clarke.
In Gabriel Clarke, his mother and the friends they meet along the way, Michael Neale has created realistic characters that allow the reader to become immersed in their story. The rich vein of honesty that runs through the book will give the reader opportunities to chuckle over their own past and the memories The River kindles.
Those readers seeking a book filled with hope will find that hope flows captured in the smooth tale Michael Neale voices. Life is filled with moments that are not always smooth as glass, much like the river, life can become a raging torrent that bruises. Yet, no matter the bruises, in our lives we find those who can heal us body and soul. Gabriel finds those people and the richness they offer makes him a man to be proud to know.
The River never seemed to have a point where I could lay it down and come back to it. No, this is a have to finish it tonight kind of book. From the strength of the opening, the words flow around the reader, pooling within the heart, soul and mind.
Story tellers have been a part of human history since man first gathered around a fire. Michael Neale shows us that fabulous tradition is still alive and well. Like other modern story tellers such as; Cormack McCarthy, Sandra Cisneros or Gabriel Marquez, the author has bound up the traditional story telling art form with a modern twist.