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Where the River Ends    by Charles Martin order for
Where the River Ends
by Charles Martin
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Painter Doss Michaels grew up in a trailer park in Georgia. He met Abbie Coleman, the daughter of a senator, just when he was about to give up painting and find a job that paid more money. Abbie's connections helped Doss become successful, and their relationship also flourished. Although they were very much in love, the lack of Abbie's father's blessing caused them to elope against his wishes.

After eleven years of marriage, Abbie discovers she has breast cancer. When all forms of treatment are exhausted, they do not want to give up, but it's Abbie's wish to complete items on her list of things she wants to accomplish in life. They aren't complicated, but one of these wishes - to make a trip of over a hundred miles on the St. Mary's River - will be something that stretches both Abbie and Doss, almost beyond what they can bear. Their relationship is challenged and strengthened during this journey, but it is not without its trials.

I have long been a huge fan of Charles Martin's writing. His easygoing style is reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks, and the cover may even cause Sparks fans to do a double-take because it's so similar to his cover style. But Martin is an excellent author in his own right, evoking emotion in just the right spots without overdoing the weepiness of the story. The characters of Doss and Abbie are well written. One gets a true sense of who they are and their motivation. At first, I thought that Where the River Ends would be another one of those Bucket List stories that have become so popular lately, but it really isn't. Overall, this is a beautiful love story between two people who treasure each other and want to give their best to each other.

The detail about breast cancer and about someone dying from the disease may be very difficult for some readers to get through. It's unclear whether the author is intimately familiar with the subject from personal experience, or whether he just did great research. But all the same, readers should have fair warning about the subject matter. Where the River Ends is filled with heart-wrenching emotional depth, but also glows with love. If you are not familiar with Charles Martin's writing, this is an excellent place to start.

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