1. Read and enjoy
2. Give this book to:
-smart or artistic kids who sometimes don't think they fit in; they will relate to the narrator.
-kids who love being entertained by TV but not by books; they will look forward to each new chapter as if it were an episode of their favorite show.
-children you wish knew a little more about America's recent history; they will learn a little about the Civil Rights Movement without feeling like they're being "taught."
-children who are dealing with a recent trauma or death; this is full of humor and tragedy and offers advice about moving on.
-adults who want something that's a pleasure to listen to, but will still get them thinking; this is precisely the book they're looking for.
I'd definitely listen again. Puzzles and logic problems are a recurrent theme. Ben is trying to solve a mystery from the past and I think it would be very rewarding to experience the book a second time, knowing the conclusion, and pick up on important details I paid little attention to the first time.
I don't think I've read anything else that quite fits into the space This Bright River occupies: an overlap between literary fiction (with complex characters and attention to writing at the sentence level) and detective story (with a page-turning plot and heart-pounding climax).
For a book that explores the nature and definition of evil, I was surprised how many times I found myself stifling a laugh while I walked with my headphones in.
I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a good read, and in particular to anyone interested in: video games, small town midwestern life, intellectual debates on human nature, recovery (substance abuse), or family drama. Oh, and people taking trips. I think this would make great airplane reading.
If you had an English grandmother and she whisked you away to a little cottage and read books to you every night, this is how I imagine it would sound. Her voice has a lovely texture, one perfectly suited to this story.
This was one of my favorite books growing up, and I had to reread it this year for a class and I'm very glad I chose this version. It is still captivating. If you're looking for a break from every day life, something different and yet not in the realm of fantasy, this will be an enjoyable journey.
Note: there are some slightly antiquated words and phrases, so this isn't the perfect pick for younger children who want to know what every single word means but are too impatient to discover the meaning through context. If such is the case, hand them something more modern and save this for a year or two so that they will really be able to enjoy it, or find one of the illustrated copies for them now and read it with them.
Before purchasing, be sure you listen to a sample. The narrator is very enthusiastic, something that no doubt helps engage child listeners, but may be grating after only a few minutes for the adult reader. If you don't like her intonation in the sample, you'd do better to read the book because she never loses enthusiasm.
The novel itself is a classic, and though Harriet can be spoiled and disagreeable, it's a must-read for any child interested in the arts, journalism, spying, or secrets (and what child isn't interested in at least the last two?). For any adult who used to be such a child, it will bring back memories, and for those who have precocious and observant children, it may bring understanding.
This is a book people either love or hate, but even those who hate it can gain something from Harriet's observations about friendship and growing up.
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