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Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 10/2022
  • 9781662932700
  • 502 pages
  • $16.99
River of the Red Earth People
Fred Cardin, author
Andy Vincent is in high school in Wisconsin in 1964. He lives in a terrible home. He is a decent, sensitive boy who is sociable, has a number of friends including some who are close friends. But at home he withdraws into himself, into his imagination, to escape the fury and warfare of his parents. He falls in love with Sara Roberts, but their love lasts only a year. Her father is transferred to a job in California. Andy is devastated when she leaves. He runs away from home, drives alone to California in his old car, where he reconnects with Sara.
Reviews
Cardin evokes the free-wheeling spirit of 1960s America in this character-rich debut. Andy Vincent, beleaguered by his paranoid (and violent) mother and frustrated by his father’s tendency to detach from reality, harbors typical adolescent dreams: he wants to escape the small-town drudgery of Falkirk, Wisconsin, as much as he wants to end up with Sara, his beautiful but seemingly unattainable close friend. Caught in the mix are Andy and Sara’s sidekicks—Jon and Hollister—and Andy’s troublemaking younger brother, Harvey, an aspiring pool shark who’s as unruly as Andy is dreamy.

Readers fascinated by the era will be swept into the idealistic but turbulent era of Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam War, and the excitement of the Space Age as they follow the nebulous threads that eventually bring Andy, Sara, and Harvey to an uncertain, but hopeful, future. Andy, who’s convinced he “was trash because of his parents, his home,” finds the courage to break free and pursue Sara, who moved to California with her parents, despite his fear that he won’t measure up. Cardin draws a compelling contrast to Harvey, who manages an escape, too, in his own explosive way, only to find an unexpected family of his own, fitting the themes of disunion and ultimate hopefulness. As soon as they break ties with their parents, they’re free to discover both the joy—and the uncertainty—of new beginnings together.

The novel is on the lengthy side, and, like life, lacks a clearly defined climax, but Cardin’s character development is worth the commitment, and fans of complex interiority will be entertained. The brothers’ notable goals—“I believe I can do better than my parents. My brother Harvey says it’s his goal to not be them,” Andy declares—drive their adventure, and readers will ultimately be left with a sense of curious anticipation, mirroring the optimistic sentiment of the ‘60s that winds through the book.

Takeaway: A free-spirited 1960s adventure of young love and new beginnings.

Great for fans of: Julian Winters’s The Summer of Everything, Paulo Coelho’s Hippie.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 10/2022
  • 9781662932700
  • 502 pages
  • $16.99

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