Book Review: Run, River Currents by Ginger Marcinkowski

  I am not normally a reader of Christian Fiction, but having so enjoyed the last several books I have reviewed for Cross Focused Reviews, I was interested to read Run, River Currents by Ginger Marcinkowski. I really wanted to like this book. It is set in Canada, with two characters at work in the forestry industry, both things near and dear to my heart. The writing style was engaging and descriptive and it is clear in the first few pages that Marcinkowski does not fall into the trap so many Christian authors do, of making her protagonist unbelievably perfect. In fact, that is an understatement.

The book of Esther is unique in all the bible because God is never named in the entire text. While not being named, however, He is a very real presence throughout the story. Unfortunately, I am left feeling that Run, River Currents is the exact opposite. While God is mentioned periodically, He never actually shows up.

This is a very difficult book to read. It is the story of the sins of three generations told in such heart rending description that it occasionally crosses the line into sordidness. In succession, characters chose rebellion and selfishness, visiting their own suffering upon those who follow after, only to have those next characters make the same choices and mete out the same suffering. The hopelessness of the ongoing pattern of abuse and debauchery is made even darker when those who claim Christ are active participants. With only one exception, the characters who should have been the salt and light in the world of suffering, were, instead, just more open wounds of depravity,with no evidence of the redeeming work of Christ at work in their life at all.

In the final moments of the book there is a sort of redemption experience, but even here, God is not permitted to show up, or even speak. The character has an emotional and intellectual acknowledgment that what she is currently doing isn’t working so well, but she never encounters the God of scripture. She never cries out to Him, he certainly never engages with her and in the ultimate travesty of the book, we never get to see if her life changes. She has a semi-emotional, semi-self-revelatory experience and then the book ends. The only time that the opportunity comes to introduce God’s redeeming work and the story simply stops.

As a Canadian reading a book set in my home country (although not by home province) and among the forest industry in which my father and grandfather both spent their working years, I periodically came across mistakes that while glaring to me, would have been overlooked by most readers: the head of state is referred to as the Premier, instead of the Prime Minister, a character joins the Canadian army and is shipped to Vietnam (Canada didn’t send soldiers to Vietnam) and other things of the like. They were small inconsistencies, but I realized that the author must have been writing about a place she had visited, but in which she had never lived. As she wrote about the horse loggers and their interactions with the trees they cut, limbed, and dragged to the landing, I had the same experience: she had all the technical details down pat, but no forester I have ever known has ever seen, or smelled, or thought of trees in the way Marcinkowski describes.

I finished the book feeling emotionally battered and spiritually drained. I kept hoping to see the hope and beauty and grace that can only come from the Lord, and didn’t ever get it. In the end I was disappointed to realize that Run, River Currents was not a Christ focused book, or even a story of redemption. If I was given the opportunity to point out one thing to anyone who reads this book, it would be the lesson of Romans 8:28-30. The Lord is actively at work in and through all the events of the lives of His people, not just those things which happen after we have some sort of experience of “meeting Him.”

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About Coralie

After 11 years of infertility, I am now a mother to three, a wife of a Presbyterian (ARP) preacher and a struggling homemaker. Welcome to my little corner of the net. Kick off your shoes, put your feet up and join the conversation. View all posts by Coralie

6 responses to “Book Review: Run, River Currents by Ginger Marcinkowski

  • LH

    Hi, Coralie. Indeed, it is difficult to comprehend how horrific things can and do happen to children at the hands of those who call themselves Christians. I think that should inspire us not to shut out those small voices but rather reach out to them, extending love and letting them know that what they have experienced is not of God, regardless of whether those who committed such crimes said the name of Christ in word. Such children – and adults who experienced these things as children – should feel from us that indeed God knows, cares, and weeps with them…and so should we.

  • LH

    P.S. I wonder how we might rate several Old Testament stories that God included in the Bible…the story of Lot’s sordid behavior with his daughters while drunk (Genesis 19)? The story of Noah’s drunken nakedness with his sons (Genesis 9)? The stories of several harlots…even a story of a Levite who cut up his dead wife’s body and scattered her limbs throughout Israel (Judges 19)? And so many more. Not all of the stories that God chose to include in HIS Word are as clean and nicely packaged as the book of Esther. Yet for some reason, He allowed them to happen…and chose to tell us about them, too.
    The beautiful thing is that as Christians, we can all provide varying perspectives and insights into the same issues. Hopefully we can be an inspiration for growth in each other’s lives.

  • Ginger Marcinkowski

    I wanted to stop by and thank you for taking the time to read and review my first novel. I know that God has much for me to learn through the eyes of others and I am most appreciative of your opinion. My mistakes were from an American viewpoint, as you rightly pointed out, and for that I apologize to my dear Canadian friends and relatives. My remembrance of those dark, dark days were days when I felt God was locked from my sight and gave me no hope. I can look back now through the eyes of others, and see His grace, where at the time of writing this book, I could not. The days in the woods with my grandfather were real, but as in most fiction, I took great liberties with literary description, as the woods and the river were where God planted the seeds in me that would later bring me to my salvation. Coralie, I am but a sinner before a Holy God. As a new writer, I will take all of your words to heart as I move on with my next book, considering what you have said in order to better glorify Him. Thank you for your truth and your time.

  • Cross Focused Reviews

    Coralie,

    Thanks for being a part of the Run, River Currents Blog Tour.

    Shaun Tabatt
    Cross Focused Reviews

  • Run, River Currents Blog Tour | Cross Focused Reviews

    […] Here are links to the reviews from the book review blog tour: “If you like Christian fiction, and want to read a story about the power of forgiving others, then you should check this book out. You might find a connection in the story to help you or others forgive and understand the power of God’s love.” -Kimberly McClure (www.ruthandgrace.org) “I really wanted to like this book. It is set in Canada, with two characters at work in the forestry industry, both things near and dear to my heart. The writing style was engaging and descriptive and it is clear in the first few pages that Marcinkowski does not fall into the trap so many Christian authors do, of making her protagonist unbelievably perfect. In fact, that is an understatement.” -Coralie Cowan (lifemoreabundant.me) […]

  • Some Thoughts on Redemption and the Word of God « Life More Abundant

    […] but I had a deadline, and I just had to publish. The review received two comments of note. One from the author herself, which was kind, and very gracious. The second was from someone who chose to remain anonymous […]

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