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Shannon Bowring returns to Dalton, Maine for her sophomore book, Where the Forest Meets the River, and picks up the same residents five years after Bridget’s suicide. Bowring’s knack for small town details and character development that made her first book so successful are again on full display as she moves around more with many short chapters voiced by a variety of Dalton residents. I loved all the same things in this book that I did in the first, and although I despise a cliffhanger, I will be first in line for the next one because I want to know what happens next. Where the Forest Meets the River could be read without having read The Road to Dalton, but why? I highly recommend both books to those who like family stories and multi-person narratives like Elizabeth Strout, Emma Straub, and J. Ryan Stradal.
Hccpsk | Mar 31, 2024 |
The Road to Dalton by Shannon Bowring is an engrossing story of small town life with characters who come to life.

As we learn about all of the townspeople, we pick our favorites as well as those we probably wouldn't want to know in real life. Yet Bowring manages to make even the least appealing of them understandable. By that I mean as a reader I may not want to interact with such a person in real life but I can understand how and/or why this character is the why she/he is.

While the novel has a bit of a twist or startling moment, it is really more of a slice of life story. If you only like stories and characters who have their arcs tied up nicely into a bow at the end, you may feel this let you down. If you understand that life doesn't offer a lot of bows and don't mind novels that do the same, you will enjoy this a lot. That isn't to say most of the stories don't have some sort of closure, even if it consists of avoiding permanent closure. Just as most of us often let things go unless or until they become an issue again, these characters do what they feel they must to continue with their lives.

Ultimately, I think the main character is the town of Dalton. The ebb and flow of life there, the not-so-secret secrets, the willingness to just let things stay the same rather than disrupt everything for an uncertain outcome. It is almost like the people are there to make sure the town survives, but without any real allegiance to it. Just to getting through one day, then the next, and so on.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy engaging character sketches, realistic human interaction, and resolutions that serve to simply allow the characters (well, most of them) to see the next day.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
pomo58 | 6 outras críticas | Jul 5, 2023 |
“And where else do you have to go; what else do you have to do? You must keep moving. Just a little further.”

Set in 1990, The Road to Dalton is a compelling character driven novel set in small town America from debut novelist, Shannon Bowring.

Dalton, Maine, is home to around 1300 people, among them, town doctor Richard Haskell, who once dreamed of becoming an artist, and his wife of thirty odd years Trudy, who has been having an affair with her best friend, Bev, for nearly as long. Bev’s son Nate, a police officer married to his childhood sweetheart, Bridget, who is struggling with new motherhood. Rose, a young mother of two, who is the regular victim of her abusive drug-dealing husband Tommy; Greg, a teenager who overeats to compensate for his complicated feelings about his sexuality; and town newcomer Alice, who can’t seem to please her mother in law, Nora.

Bowring introduces an ordinary cast of people who live as we all do, with joy and sadness, longing and regret, pleasure and misery, uncertainty and hope, grief and love. While each chapter focuses largely on the thoughts and actions of a different character, they are all intimately connected, creating a seamless and whole narrative.

I was surprised at how quickly I became invested in these characters and their stories. Bowring effortlessly elicits a sense of familiarity and compassion that is only heightened when tragedy strikes, and the regular rhythms of the character’s lives are interrupted.

The writing is understated yet eloquent, evoking an authentic sense of time, place, and character with few flourishes, yet startling ease.

The Road to Dalton is an immersive and insightful novel, a real gem that surprised and charmed me.½
shelleyraec | 6 outras críticas | Jun 17, 2023 |
The Road to Dalton by Shannon Bowring is a highly recommended debut literary novel about small town Maine.

The narrative of The Road to Dalton follows citizens of the fictional small town of Dalton in 1990 Maine. The narrative carefully and compassionately follows three couples and the tension and dilemmas they face. Rose is being abused by Tommy. Richard, the local doctor, sees it all while tolerating a loveless marriage to Trudy. Trudy is in love with Bev, wife of Bill and mother to Nate. Nate's wife Bridget is suffering from post-partum depression. Sarah and Greg are struggling with the unique challenges of adolescence.

This is a character driven novel that relies upon your compassion and care about the people who populate Bowring's small town in order to hold your attention and interest. The interconnected chapters follow the reactions and emotions of the characters who inhabit the town. You might have to set some disbelief aside, but you will be interested in the feelings and reactions of these characters.

The writing is incredible and insightful, although you may have to set some disbelief aside. These characters and their situations will resonate with many readers. This is an excellent debut and Bowring is an author to watch in the future.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Europa Editions via Edelweiss.
SheTreadsSoftly | 6 outras críticas | May 29, 2023 |
As a Mainer, I especially appreciate Bowring's portrait of a small community far from any cities. The novel has many "main" characters whose stories are interwoven, which is the way of small towns. As readers we can know more about them than their neighbors do, and their secrets drive their interactions in ways that may seem inexplicable to others. The ending does not provide tidy resolutions to their situations, but is satisfying just the same. We can hope tht the author will continue to explore some of these characters in future books.
sleahey | 6 outras críticas | May 27, 2023 |
ou drive down a road in Northern Maine, through conifer forests, pass worn buildings and a lumber mill, the road empty, eerie, until you see in the valley the small town of Dalton, population 1309. You could pass it by. You could imagine there is nothing to see there. But you would be wrong. For every town has its stories, every town has people who are struggling, pretending to be happy in their misery.

Linger awhile. And you will discover in this valley fears and secrets that reflect the greater world’s.

A young mother with postpartum depression. A teenage boy, uncertain and confused. A young wife with an abusive husband. Marriages without passion, married women who are more than friends. A husband tortured by his inability to recognize his wife’s pain.

These characters will break your heart.

Thanks to the publisher for a free book.
nancyadair | 6 outras críticas | May 10, 2023 |
In The Road to Dalton Shannon Bowring gives readers glimpses into the lives of the inhabitants of the small, northern Maine titular town during the months surrounding a tragic event. Like any small town, the residents are all connected through friendships and relationships, and Bowring illustrates this beautifully with each chapter revolving around a different character but still linked to the other stories. Bowring’s concise but thoughtful writing makes every character and scenario feel familiar as she explores themes of family, marriage, and depression. Readers of Elizabeth Strout, Ann Tyler, and J. Ryan Stradal should definitely give this debut author a try.
Hccpsk | 6 outras críticas | Apr 1, 2023 |
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