Since moving to Washington I have joined a meetup group book club and last month we read Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell. I was disappointed that more people didn’t enjoy the book as much as I did after leaving our meeting. Or it possible that the people that did not enjoy it were much more outspoken than the people who did. There were so many aspects of this book that I enjoyed. The book tells the coming of age story of Margo Crane. Margo is somewhat cold but likable because of her independence and unapologetic sexuality.
I found it easy to read because the plot continued to be interesting and hold my attention throughout the book; constantly changing and keeping you wondering what Margo would do next and how she would handle her situation. I don’t want to give away too much so I won’t go into details.
I also liked the realistic and sometimes gruesome details of what it means to be a hunter and live off of the land. One of the criticisms that most people agreed with was that it was unbelievable that the story could have taken place in recent past. Although I have never hunted and in the past have not had a desire to do so, this book actually made me more open to the idea. Margo gets herself into a situation where she is homeless and the only way she knows how to survive is to hunt various animals-deer, squirrels, etc. Which does seem very barbaric, but when you think about it, it is also very practical.
What I liked most was the overall message that I got out of the book- that it is more important to live the way that you want to than to live the way other people or society tell you- even if the way you choose is to live outside, bath in a river, hunt and eat wild game.