The Help, Peter Pan, The Handmaid’s Tale, Gone with the Wind, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and the Harry Potter series. What do they all have in common? They have all been awarded my coveted 5 star rating. I’m very excited to announce that Tina Boscha’s River in the Sea joins that list today! This is a Call Me Bookish first – never before have I given an indie book 5 stars.
Unlike a lot of reviewers, I use the same standards to rate indie books as I do New York Times best sellers. Don’t get me wrong, I get why people give indie books some slack; I mean, it’s true that they’re self-edited, not allotted the same kinds of resources, etc. However, I personally feel that it would be wrong for me to rate them differently. I confess that while I have never tried to self-publish, I still feel that I wouldn’t put anything out there unless I felt like it was the best it could be.
River in the Sea is that kind of finished product. I walked away from it feeling satisfied, feeling like I would never change a thing about it. (As a very opinionated reader, that barely ever happens!) While I commend and am deeply appreciative of River in the Sea‘s superb editing, I want to set the record straight. River in the Sea has earned each and every star I gave it simply because Tina Boscha writes beautifully – the plot is riveting and her characters are fully-imagined.
Speaking of characters, while Boscha cautions readers that this book is a work of fiction, she confirms that it is indeed based on her mother’s real-life experiences in German occupied Friesland. The protagonist, Leen, is a typical teenager who is just trying to figure it all out. Her favorite pastimes include driving fast, finding ways to con her eldest sister into doing her chores, and smoking in public even though it’s frowned upon because she’s a woman. That’s what broke my heart. Her coming of age took place about 60 years before my own, but we still had so much in common. The difference is that Leen’s occurred during times of slaughter, hiding, starvation, and fear of the unknown. Everything that she goes through feels so unreal, but they did, these things happened!
The only other time I felt this connected to a place I’ve never been, to a woman I’ve never met, and to a time I’ve never lived in was when I finished Gone with the Wind for the first time.
River in the Sea deserves all of these shining stars and more.