Crooked River; Valerie Geary
William Morrow - 2014
Crooked River tells the troubled tale of sisters Sam, 15 and Ollie, 10. There mom died recently and they are hoping to stay living in Oregon with their father Frank, "Bear", McAllister and his very unconventional way of life. Bear lives in a teepee and the money he earns comes from raising bees and selling the honey. The girls love their dad and like being with him, and their grandparents in Boston have agreed to a trial period to see how things work out for the girls living with their dad.
Soon after their mom dies the girls stumble upon the body of a woman floating in the nearby river, for whatever reason, the girls decided to keep their sighting a secret. Especially after they find strange fresh scratches in "Bear's" face and hands that he doesn't want to talk about, and the fact he left the sisters alone the night before the body was found, and won't talk about where he was
Soon evidence mounts against "Bear", who is seen as an outsider in the small rural community. Bear is arrested, but the sisters are determined to prove their dad is innocent. They begin some amateur detective work on their dad's behalf. As the investigation begins, ghosts speak to Ollie, a girl so traumatized by her mother's death that she refuses to speak. When she does speak, others do not believe her. Her sister calls her a baby and does not believe spirits exist.
Narrated in short alternating chapters by Sam and Ollie, I enjoyed this coming of age mystery of sorts. I admired the sisters devotion to their father. The girls got themselves into some sticky situations, but because of their ages, it seemed both foolish and yet plausible. The characters well developed and I also liked the older couple who watched out for the girls. Overall, a very good debut novel.