review by Maryom
Growing up by the Susquehanna river in rural Pennsylvania, Billy Sycamore was always drawn to it; canoeing, trading tales with the Native Americans he met on its banks but above all - fishing. It seems like an idyllic world - and it mainly is till one day, when he's 12, out fishing alone, he encounters a stranger and something dreadful happens to him which ultimately changes his life. Although he won't share the details with them, his family all too easily
spot its impact and the change in Billy as he descends into increasing mental instability.
To be honest, I wasn't very attracted by this book when it arrived for review. Probably due to having watched too many 'river' based movies, I sort of imagined it to be a teenage mash-up of Deliverance, The River of No Return and The River Wild with too much fishing! - fortunately it was nothing of that kind! When I eventually picked it up, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.
American Sycamore is a quirky coming of age tale set in a wild landscape
of forests and river. Set in a small town peopled by the eccentric,
weird and downright crazies, it's moving and funny by turns, and
twisting and turning like a whodunnit. The story is narrated by Billy's
younger sister Alice, in an off-beat, chatty style as she struggles to understand what has happened to her
brother but nonetheless loving him through all his 'treatments' and hospitalisations.
I'm not sure whether to label this as teen, YA or adult but it would probably be enjoyed by all.
Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Seren Books
Genre - coming of age, YA/adult crossover
Buy American Sycamore