Cold Rock River by Jackie Lee Miles is one good piece of Southern fiction that I really enjoyed- it was at times heartbreaking and at others hopeful! This was just the kind of book I needed to get my reading mojo back although once I turned the last page of the book I already missed everybody in it and wished there was more. Cold Rock River is one book I won’t forget for a good long while not only for Adie’s story but for the slave girl, Tempe’s, as well.
Adie is just the type of character that effortlessly slides into your heart and stays there. She was funny, sweet and strong when she had to be. Adie and her sisters Rebecca, Clarissa and Annie are living happily unitl tragedy strikes and the youngest sister Annie dies. Adie blames herself as she was the one that her dad left Annie in the care of. After the tragedy the family doesn’t speak of the accident or Annie; something that really weighs on Adie because she wants to remember Annie and talk about her. The thing is that trying to forget doesn’t always help those trying to move on in their lives.
Not yet seventeen, Adie falls for a skirt chasing high school boy named Buck. All the girls love him and he knows it and uses it to his full advantage. He also notices Adie because she is the one girl not giving him the time of day even though she has a huge crush on him. Well one thing leads to another, they date, she gets pregnant and so the story goes – they get married. They end up moving to Buck’s old home town of Hog Gap since Adie’s father all but disowns her but she misses her mother and sisters terribly. Needless to say Adie is lonely.
In walks a few great characters in Murphy, her neighbor and Willa Mae; a neighbor as well. Murphy is great and tries to help Adie all he can when she decides she’s going to raise chickens. Could be that Murphy may be harboring his own secret crush as well. Willa Mae is a lifesaver for Adie. It is when Adie is in labor that midwife Willa Mae introduces her to Tempe Jordan, a seventeen year old slave girl through a diary that Willa Mae has had all her life. While Adie is struggling to get her own life and that of her daughter Grace’s life on the right track, Tempe is living her own struggles during the Civil War time.
The author weaves the story of Tempe in perfectly with Adie’s story. The diary leaves Adie with many questions though as when it’s getting really good Adie turns the page to find it empty. Somebody has torn out the pages. Adie can’t leave it there – she has to know what happens. So she asks Willa Mae who is quite reluctant to talk on it but eventually agrees to tell the whole story. What comes from this is a whole lot of secrets that have been buried for years and years but a lot of answers as well.
The stories of Adie and Tempe definitely kept me reading. I wanted to know what was going to happen to the both of them. I loved the descriptive writing of Jackie Lee Miles and how she made these characters so real to me. This is a great story of family, friendships, love, loss and grief along with an innocence that really endeared the book to me. I look forward to reading more of Jackie Lee Miles’ work.
If you’re so inclined you can purchase your own copy of Cold Rock River by Jackie Lee Miles here in the US and here in Canada. Be sure to pop in and check out Jackie Lee Miles’ website for more info on her and her books.
My thanks…to Danielle at Sourcebooks for my review copy of Cold Rock River by Jackie Lee Miles.