Riverine is an incredibly personal and eloquent book. Circling buried truths and confronting ghosts, this is a book that wrestles with issues of nature and nurture ... Palm’s memoir is lifeline and letter to the parallel universes we so often wish for.
The juxtaposition of Palm’s fascination with landscapes and her coming of age as an author works nicely. Both strands of the story cross-pollinate ... Reading this tale, we can all remember lost loves and ponder the might-have-beens.
...beautifully examines the myriad ways nature and nurture mingle and mix to make us who were are as adults ... Her own story is, at its heart, one of a girl from the country growing up and moving away, though at times the book flirts with a kind of advocacy journalism ... Yet despite Ms. Palm’s broad sympathies, we never get a sense of why Corey committed the murders ... The result is that rarest of things: a book that lays bare the lives that are lived and not lived.
...stands out both by the relentlessness with which the comparative mind of the author works and by her willingness to question her own metaphor-making tendency ... Riverine stands as a bold reckoning with not only an individual’s past and present but with the very apparatus of truth-making itself.
All of this is well done, though the story – a writer leaving home and finding herself as a writer – is also well worn. What differentiates Riverine, though, is two-fold. First, Palm is a particularly good observer of class...The second distinctive quality is Palm’s description of her relationship with Corey ... Unfortunately, Palm’s relationship with Corey drops away for long stretches, and the pages devoted to Palm’s struggles as a 20-something in Indianapolis and her decision to become a writer in Vermont drag considerably.
...most of thoughts in this book are well-put, often worth stopping and mulling over. But what keeps the pages turning is the current of Angela and Corey’s doomed relationship ... From the first pages to the last, “Riverine” is full of questions. One of these is the purpose of writing. 'Could I better understand the significance of the angle of a man’s bottom lip, of an illiterate man registering to vote, of rotten milk, because I am compelled to notice?' she asks.Taken as a whole, Riverine is an answer to this question. Yes, she can.
...there is volumetric power here. Sizable intrigue in the sentences. Bold declarations that (as all memoir must) destabilize the reader and paralyze easy judgment on both the life lived and the words chosen. Angela Palm has left the river and returned to it. Angela Palm has arrived.
Much of Palm’s memoir reads like a novel. Her writing is strong, quiet, and richly observed, and it’s easy to imagine that we’re reading a first-person fictional narrative ... Palm is expert at making us feel the claustrophobia of her childhood, the desperate sense of being trapped in an existence that could not possibly be her own, with people who seemed wholly foreign to her ... Riverine is an effort for Palm to make sense of her past, to find answers to questions that have haunted her, like why her mother understands so little about her life, and why she could not douse the torch she carried for a boy she’d known forever ...an impressive debut — intelligent, tender, forthright, insightful.