Downriver by Jeanne Leiby is a collection of hard-edged stories placed in the setting of downriver Detroit, Michigan. Each of the 15 stories gives a glimpse into industrial-gray neighborhoods filled with hardworking people struggling to survive. The true-to-life characters all hold onto a hope of something better in their future while striving to make sense of their imperfect present.
One thing I appreciate about Leiby's style is her ability to allow the characters to be flawed. There's no powdered makeup and extra lip gloss on them. They are what they are, and we see the sides to them they'd probably rather hide, and this is what gives her stories a unique voice. Secrets are exposed, secrets I doubt the characters even admit to themselves. Despite their flaws, or maybe because of them, the characters are likable, and one can relate to their views of a difficult world. Like Detroit itself, they struggle to be something better and oftentimes fail.
There is no better time for a book like Downriver, since the city of Detroit often finds itself in the news, trying to stay afloat while it wrestles with a tough economic situation. Leiby's stories put a human face to the articles we see in the evening paper and will change the way we read the headlines.
If you'd like to win a free copy of Downriver, please leave a comment on this post telling me what intrigues you about the book. Subscribers to carp(e) libris are automatically entered to win this and every book given away at this site. Leaving a comment here gives subscribers a second entry. A winner will be randomly drawn on Friday, February 1, 2008, at 12:00 p.m. EST and announced as soon as I have contacted the winner.
Downriver is published by Carolina Wren Press.
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