cover image Only the River

Only the River

Anne Raeff. Counterpoint, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-64009-334-8

Raeff’s engrossing tale of refugees and war (after Winter Kept Us Warm) traces the connection between two families affected by the Nicaraguan Revolution. After the Anschluss in 1938, 13-year-old Pepa, a Jew, flees Vienna with her family for Nicaragua, eventually settling in El Castillo, where, as doctors, her parents dedicate themselves to fighting yellow fever. At 14, Pepa walks though the jungle at night and watches people dancing in the plaza, where she meets a boy named Guillermo and falls in love. However, a few years later, while Pepa carries Guillermo’s child, her family abruptly leaves for New York, and she is separated from Guillermo forever. Pepa marries a Jewish man and has another child with him, Liliana. Decades later, Pepa’s son, William, sets out to join the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, where he is presumed dead in 1982. Guillermo’s daughter, Federica, also fights the Contras. It isn’t until Liliana travels to Nicaragua in the mid-2000s to find answers about her older brother’s disappearance, that Pepa’s and Guillermo’s stories merge again. Raeff’s seamless web artfully depicts the characters’ will to survive and to fight for what they believe in. This heartfelt story of separation and confluence will move readers. [em](May) [/em]