Title: Long Bright River
Author: Liz Moore
Age Group: Adult
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
I’ve been interested in Long Bright River before it officially came out, so when I reserved it at my local library, imagine my surprise when I was chosen to loan one of our library’s first copies! As soon as I was finished with Alien: Echo, I dove in. Taking place in Pennsylvania in the midst of the opioid crisis, Long Bright River tells the story of a police officer, Mickey, and her wayward younger sister, Kacey. Mickey is used to her sister disappearing; that’s nothing new. But when Kacey leaves a mysterious trail, Mickey is determined to find her sister, once and for all, to untangle the snarled threads that family secrets have left behind. But what Mickey uncovers goes far deeper, and she discovers that unearthing the past will hold a price that she may not be able to pay…
Though this is Liz Moore’s third book, Long Bright River was the first I’ve ever read by her, and damn, talk about a doozy! Despite wanting something lighter after Alien, I pushed it up to the top of my stack, because I didn’t want to return it without reading it. This book is billed as a literary mystery thriller, but to sum up this meaty, heavy novel as only that would be to do it a major disservice. I’m from the Midwest, Ohio, specifically, and I’d be lying if I said this book didn’t hit really close to home. The opioid crisis is a huge deal, but especially here; I’ve seen more than one person I’ve known die from drug addiction. For that reason, I didn’t review right away; some books just need to marinate in your brain before you can write down your thoughts on it. At first, I didn’t know if the book would even be for me; I got one hundred pages in and wasn’t feeling it. But I decided to give it a chance, and I’m so, so happy that I did. The pacing was a little weird and took a bit for me to get used to, but once I did, I was thoroughly absorbed. Even if I didn’t have the book with me, it consumed my every thought. I was captivated by Mickey’s grave, quiet narration, and as I followed her through the Philly streets, the tension only grew. At times, there were so many characters that I had trouble keeping track. But overall, I loved this book, and I loved the fictional way that it laid out the awful and still climbing tolls taken by the crisis every day, particularly in my part of the country. I also loved the way that it called out the patriarchy (no spoilers!). Mickey, Kacey, Thomas, Simon, and Truman were all standout characters, so human and flawed that they seemed to come alive off of the page. And that ending! I had no idea it was coming, and when it did, I was so shocked I had to put the book down for a while! This book is one of the best I’ve read in 2020, and I can’t wait to see Liz Moore’s next novel! The bottom line: A rich, layered story about family, betrayal, and all kinds of secrets, I loved Long Bright River! Next on deck: P.S., I Still Love You by Jenny Han!