The opening scene of this book is completely heartbreaking - we see what young Gabriel sees at the tender age of 5. The next few chapters we see Gabriel as a broken child, trying to grow up but burdened by the tragedy he suffered. I just wanted to reach through the pages and hug this young boy, since his innocence was wrenched away from him at such an early age.
The book then fast forwards to Gabriel as a 20-year-old, stuck in a rut because of his past. But an adventurous streak comes across him and he goes back to The River and is completely changed by his experiences out there.
The first part of the book was slow, but important...it helped me understand where Gabriel was coming from and why he was acting the way he did in the second part of the book. From the point Gabriel goes back to The River it gets very interesting and picks up the pace. I was expecting it to be more of a suspense type of book, but it wasn't - it was about a boy coming to his own after suffering throughout his childhood (not because he was denied anything, but because of fear). It's a very sweet book, it makes your heart happy when you walk away.
The author left the book in a very curious manner, and I'm wondering if we will see a sequel to this book that continues Gabriel's story. I hope that there is.
As a side not, I was also led to believe by tags here on GR that this was "Christian fiction". It's not. I don't remember God even being mentioned in the book (oh, except one place where they say Grace before eating). It's tagged that way maybe because the author is a Christian? I don't know. This book is not Christian fiction.