Moon River: A Novel by Amber D. Tran

Amber Tran Moon River cover
Evocative, Nostalgic!

Moon River by Amber D. Tran, 235 pages, September 17th, 2016, Little Creek Books Imprint of Jan-Carol Publishing Inc., Genre: Coming-of-Age/Contemporary Fiction. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Moon River is a coming-of-age story written in a distinctive first person narrative memoir style, making the characters and events feel real and immediate. The story spans four years in an Appalachian teen girl’s life from 1999 through 2004, followed by an epilogue. The writing style is personal and nostalgic, reminding of sights, smells, trends, and music of yesteryear. Coming from an Appalachian family myself, this tale brought back childhood memories for me that will always give this book a special place in my heart.

Abigail, the narrator, experiences many of the same situations and emotions we’ve had as teens. These years are a “fire walk”, a struggle to figure out where we stand, who we are, how we relate to those around us, and develop lasting, meaningful relationships with others. Adults often roll our eyes as our children overreact to the stressers in their lives, forgetting we were in their shoes once and it wasn’t easy. Amber D. Tran takes us back to a time when the mean girl forced us to commit some humiliating act for group approval, when we knew who our best friend was because she proudly took the punishment alongside us, when we sneaked into the creepy house at the foot of the hill, when music sang the lyrics of our souls, and when we just knew in our heart of hearts that we were destined to be with that cute boy on the bus forever. These are days of birthday pool parties and summer four-wheeler rides, of picking blackberries, illegally downloading music from Napster, late nights on MSN Messenger, and Final Fantasy VII.

Adolescence isn’t all parties and fun. There are darker moments as well. Teens deal either directly with or try to help a friend who is dealing with heavy issues such as abusive parents, drug addiction, feelings of betrayal, isolation, guilt, and depression. American children, who lack the wisdom of experience, are thrust into dealing with mature situations and emotions whether they are ready or not. This coming-of-age story draws forth a chaotic cascade of emotions as we join Abigail in her journey from innocence to maturity.

Moon River was an enjoyable read from start to finish. Powerful, emotionally evocative, and wistful, this story felt as though it poured forth from the author onto the page and into me; it needed to be, and it needed me to not read, but to listen. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reminiscent coming-of-age stories.

You can find “Moon River” by Amber D. Tran at Moon River.


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