cover image Where the Forest Meets the River

Where the Forest Meets the River

Shannon Bowring. Europa, $18 (304p) ISBN 979-8-88966-043-9

Bowring follows The Road to Dalton with another engrossing tale that tracks the residents of Dalton, Maine, as they wade through grief and interpersonal drama. It’s 1995, five years after the suicide of Bridget Theroux, who dealt with postpartum depression in the previous novel. Bridget’s widower, Nate, has left his job with the local police department for a less demanding gig at the lumber mill, to better raise the couple’s five-year-old daughter, Sophie. Meanwhile, Nate’s mother-in-law, Annette, deals with her addictions to shopping and alcohol, and his mother, Bev, who’s carried on a long-running secret romance with Trudy, the library director, contends with the limits of Trudy’s devotion as Trudy cares for her husband following his heart attack. Other plot threads are given equal weight but have less traction, among them the stories of bisexual college student Greg Fortin, who’s expected to take over his family’s hardware store but would rather pursue his interest in horticulture, and Rose, a single mom who’s dodging her abusive ex-husband while building a friendship with Nate. Still, Bowring effectively conveys the ways in which Bridget’s suicide reverberates in the characters’ lives, reshaping their perceptions of love and death to a degree that disproves what a doctor tells Annette in an attempt to be comforting: “Suicide is just a moment.” This slice of life cuts deep. (Sept.)