Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 432 pages
Audiobook Length: 13 hours
First Published: 2023
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Atria Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
In 1958, Sheriff Brody Dern investigates the murder of a disliked wealthy landowner in a small Minnesota town. The rumor mill is quickly ablaze, accusing the murder on Noah Bluestone, a Native American WWII vet who just returned to town with his new Japanese bride. As Brody tries to find the truth, the physical and emotional wounds from World War II bring up old grievances in the community.
Just as with his acclaimed coming-of-age dramas Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land, Krueger presents a masterclass in developing complex nuanced characters in this beautifully written historical fiction novel. Sheriff Brody Dern and the citizens of Jewell, Minnesota, are complicated and messy and, for the most part, doing the best they can. Krueger makes the small town come alive while hitting on deep themes and expertly painting human nature in all its flaws. The River We Remember is a must-read for any fall reading list.
On Memorial Day, as the people of Jewel, Minnesota gather to remember and honor the sacrifice of so many sons in the wars of the past, the half-clothed body of wealthy landowner Jimmy Quinn is found floating in the Alabaster River, dead from a shotgun blast. Investigation of the murder falls to Sheriff Brody Dern, a highly decorated war hero who still carries the physical and emotional scars from his military service. Even before Dern has the results of the autopsy, vicious rumors begin to circulate that the killer must be Noah Bluestone, a Native American WWII veteran who has recently returned to Jewel with a Japanese wife. As suspicions and accusations mount and the town teeters on the edge of more violence, Dern struggles not only to find the truth of Quinn’s murder but also put to rest the demons from his own past.
Caught up in the torrent of anger that sweeps through Jewel are a war widow and her adolescent son, the intrepid publisher of the local newspaper, an aging deputy, and a crusading female lawyer, all of whom struggle with their own tragic histories and harbor secrets that Quinn’s death threatens to expose.
The River We Remember is an unflinching look at the wounds left by the wars we fight abroad and at home, a moving exploration of the ways in which we seek to heal, and a testament to the enduring power of the stories we tell about the places we call home.