Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite
Review Date: August 21, 2018
American River: Tributaries is a work of historical fiction by author Mallory M. O’Connor, and the first book in the American River Trilogy. The story has its roots in the middle of the nineteenth century at Mockingbird Valley Ranch near the town of Auburn in Northern California, along the banks of the title’s American River. One hundred years later, the descendants of three immigrant families from Mockingbird Valley Ranch are going about the struggle of their daily lives when a decision by one of their number starts an interlinked chain of events. Despite their diverse lives and the three different cultures from which they originate, these tributaries all link back to the old river, back to Mockingbird Valley Ranch and the destinies they can’t escape.
What I particularly enjoyed about American River: Tributaries was the attention to detail that Mallory M. O’Connor puts into the cultural side of characterization. The roots of Irish, Japanese and Mexican culture are brought to life with such immersive detail that I felt I was directly involved in each of the characters’ lives in every scene. Whilst the novel itself tracks the life path of several couples and singles, the romantic element is very heavy and readers of traditional romantic and erotic fiction will find plenty to enjoy here as well. For me, the real story about the decisions made in life and the way your roots never truly leave you was what had me hooked. Overall, I’d definitely recommend American River: Tributaries to fans of both romance and family dramas.
The Book Review Directory
Review Date: July 19, 2018
Title: American River; Tributaries
Author: Mallory M. O’Connor
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
American River: Tributaries follows the lives of three families of Irish, Mexican, and Japanese descent. Though their ancestors all settled on the American River in Northern California, the generations following spread out across the country, making the families’ interconnection all the more unlikely. But the character’s lives overlap and collide, they undergo tremendous growth and are opened to new levels of understanding of each other, of life, and of themselves. . . .
As the years go by, the families become more intertwined and their relationships become more and more complicated. Each character’s introduction and individual story is engaging, and their involvement in other character’s lives is seamless and natural. Though there are many, the characters are thoroughly developed and perfectly imperfect. Their flaws are raw and real, often speaking to the time period they live in. With a diverse group of characters of various cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, and economic statuses, O’Connor tackles discrimination, homophobia, and sexism in a way that is tasteful but stays true to the difficult and complex situations the characters face.
The plot is extremely fluid and the writing is well-executed; the various story lines are never confusing and perfectly align with each other, while the simple, but artistic, language sets a distinct mood and voice for each character. The scenes are never information-heavy and always contribute to the development and escalation of the plot. The tragic ending that unites the three families reminds us that despite our differences, unity ad love can overcome even the most stubborn prejudices….
Filled with descriptions of the beauty and grace of some of the United States’ greatest cities and areas, American River tributaries is a true American story. As it delves into the realities of the various divides American coped with in the sixties, readers will be rooting for O’Connor’s characters as they navigate the difficult spaces their identities attempt to force them into. AR: Tributaries is the perfect start to a series about family, pain, love, identity, and life in America.
Review of American River: Currents,
Book Two of the American River Trilogy
Review Date: July 3, 2018
Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” And so it is with the star-crossed McPhalan-Morales-Ashida families in American River: Currents, Book 2 of Mallory O’Connor’s splendid trilogy – a meditation in novel form on the agonies and ecstasies of the great American experiment at a crucible moment.
After ending Book 1 in 1963 with a traumatic family death, O’Connor follows her yearning, conflicted characters through the dystopian tumult of the ’60s. As America descends into unimaginable chaos and heartbreak, so do their lives. Book 2 ends with the tragedy at Kent State, searingly portrayed.
O’Connor’s writing is lyrical and bold, suffused with the sensibility of painters and pianists. She is a master of still-life renderings of meadow, mountain and mood, and of sheer action. Describing a character’s tumble down stairs: “Arms pin-wheeling wildly, she tried to grab the banister, but her hands were slick with blood. The landing at the base of the stairs tilted crazily, then rushed up to meet her so fast that there wasn’t time to scream. Stars exploded on the blackness inside her eyelids, and her mouth was flooded with a salty, hot liquid. Was that blood? Such a lot of blood.”
O’Connor is uncanny in channeling the interior voice of the artist at work, witness this scene with Marian, who left her land baron husband in California to be a painter in New York. “…she spread washes of blue and green across the canvas. Now a bit of orange and a little alizarin crimson. A darker green. A bit of violet over here……bring the human form into clearer focus with subtle dark and light accents that will heighten the emotional impact of the work. When a thin ray of morning sunshine finally trickled through the hazy glass and cast a wedge of muted light across the bare wood floor, she was still standing before the easel, lost, and found, in her work.”
Just as the entranced reader, awaiting Book 3.
Greg Dawson, Author of Busted in Bloomington and Hiding in the Spotlight
Review by Aimee Ann from Red Headed Book Lover.
Review Date: June, 28 2018
“American River: Currents is book two in the American River Trilogy and wow what a sensational sequel! A short while ago I read and reviewed the first book in the American River Trilogy called American River: Tributaries and my verdict was that it was a moving piece of literature that should not be missed. Upon finishing the first book, I instantly wanted more but I had to wait for the second book to be released and now that it is I am so happy and excited to share the second book with you lovely readers!
The story of American River: Currents is an incredible one that is powerful as well as moving. As I read American River: Currents, I felt like my heart was in my mouth because the book was full of pent-up tension which felt like it would burst at any moment. The only way I can describe it is like an earthquake barrier.”
Full review on Red Headed Book Lover official book review site.
Editorial Review written by the Book Review Directory Production Team.
Review Date: June, 27 2018
Title: American River: Tributaries
Author: Mallory M. O’Connor
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
American River: Tributaries follows the lives of three families of Irish, Mexican, and Japanese descent. Though their ancestors all settled on the American River in Northern California, the generations following spread out across the country, making the families’ interconnection all the more unlikely. But as the characters’ lives overlap and collide, they undergo tremendous growth and are opened to new levels of understanding of each other, of life, and of themselves.
The story follows all the members of the three families and the changes that time brings them. For the McPhalans, things are changing on the Mockingbird Valley Ranch as the children are growing up, the adults are growing old, and the family is growing apart. The Ashida family, who work for the McPhalans, have their own struggles as they cope with being one of two Japanese families in the area, just over a decade after being released from internment camps. Familial relationships are even more strained in the Morales family, a Mexican-American, interracial family who is divided because of the resentments and grudges they cling to.
As the years go by, the families become more intertwined and their relationships become more complicated. Each character’s introduction and individual story is engaging, and their involvement in other characters’ lives is seamless and natural. Though there are many, the characters are thoroughly developed and perfectly imperfect. Their flaws are raw and real, often speaking to the time period they live in. With a diverse group of characters of various cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, and economic statuses, O’Connor tackles discrimination, homophobia, and sexism in a way that is tasteful but stays true to the difficult and complex situations the characters face.
The plot is extremely fluid and the writing is well-executed; the various storylines are never confusing and perfectly align with each other, while the simple, but artistic, language sets a distinct mood and voice for each character. The scenes were never information-heavy and always contributed to the development and escalation of the plot. The tragic ending that unites the three families reminds us that despite our differences, unity and love overcome even the most stubborn prejudices.
At the beginning of the book, there is a “Cast of Characters” section which lists all the characters in the book, as well as a brief description of them. Though it seems helpful, the inclusion of this list of characters actually hinders the reader’s experience. In fact, one of the descriptions in the character list includes a minor spoiler that would have been better off left for the readers to uncover at their own pace.
In addition, including a section like this emulates a lack of confidence on the author’s part of her ability to clearly organize the story so that each character is distinct and memorable enough for the reader to keep track of them, thus needing to reference the character list. However, the list and the accompanying descriptions were unnecessary because, for O’Connor, her characters’ voices, personalities, and lifestyles were so unique, memorable, and engaging that it was nearly impossible to forget them or their role in the novel.
Filled with descriptions of the beauty and grace of some of the United States’ greatest cities and areas, American River: Tributaries is a true American story. As it delves into the realities of the various divides Americans coped with in the sixties, readers will be rooting for O’Connor’s characters as they navigate the difficult spaces their identities attempt to force them into. AR: Tributaries is the perfect start to a series about family, pain, love, identity, and life in America.
Review Date: April 13, 2018
O’Connor (American River: Tributaries, 2017, etc.) returns with the second volume of her trilogy about three California families (the McPhalans, the Moraleses, and the Ashidas) whose members’ lives have repeatedly intersected over the past century.
This novel picks up in 1963, just after the tragic death of Julian McPhalan, which marked the end of the series opener. Kate McPhalan is now married to Carl Fitzgerald (née Carlos Estevan Morales), a trained symphony conductor in San Francisco. Owen McPhalan, the family patriarch and owner of the Mockingbird Valley Ranch, is a representative in the state legislature in Sacramento. Marian, his ex-wife and the mother of the three McPhalan children, is an aspiring artist in Boston. In Cleveland, the youngest McPhalan, Alexandria, nicknamed “Alex,” is studying concert piano under the tutorship of Hungarian musical genius Stefan Molnar. After Alex leaves Boston, Marian moves to New York City, where she finds a warm reception for her paintings. Meanwhile, Tommy Ashida is spending a semester in Japan, having been chosen to participate in an international studies program in architecture at the University of Kyoto. Tommy’s father once worked at Owen’s ranch, and Tommy and Kate had once been a couple. In Kyoto, Tommy meets Emiko Namura, and, for the first time since his relationship with Kate, falls in love again. O’Connor follows her characters from January 1963 to May 1970, constantly moving the action from one location to another—California, Ohio, New York, Japan, and Mexico. Many of the central characters suffer from some sort of artistic angst, and the narrative is fully loaded with fragile egos, overwrought emotions, and selfish preoccupations. In this atmosphere, Kate’s general stability is welcome relief, even as she wrestles with a few demons of her own. The complex relationships and family crises effectively parallel the turbulence of the era that provides the backdrop for addictive melodrama. A fight to establish a farm workers union, as well as references to the Vietnam War and the 1970 Kent State shootings, establish an underlying layer of tragedy. Still, the deaths of multiple characters will come as a surprise to readers.
A well-paced historical soap opera.
Online Book Club Official Review – American River: Tributaries
Review by: psychopathycathy
Review Date: January 23, 2018
Review source: OnlineBookClub
Following is excerpted from an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “American River: Tributaries” by Mallory M. O’Connor.
When I was scrolling through books for review, this one caught my eye. As an immigrant, I absolutely love the diversity that America is so proud of; at the same time, however, I have to admit that I am ignorant about some other cultures and some other immigrant stories. I thought this book would be an eye-opening read and a chance to broaden my view of the world—and I was right. American River: Tributaries by Mallory M. O’Connor is a poignant story about three immigrant families living in California—one Irish, one Japanese, and one Mexican.
. . . What I love about this book is how realistically it depicts diversity and culture. This book was not a story about a picture perfect family, or about a hero with a tragic backstory; the story felt real. I think this is a book that many people, especially those who have found themselves in an unfamiliar environment, could relate to. In fact, American River: Tributaries hit very close to home for me personally, as I am an immigrant myself and have often heard stories about how hard my parents had to work to get our family to where it is today.
The writing style was also great, and I especially loved the line that explained how humanity was linked together, like tributaries of a stream.
Overall, however, I would . . . recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of memoirs, historical fiction, or contemporary novels. In fact, anyone who is interested in reading about the lives of immigrants and different cultures would probably enjoy this read, and it certainly is eye-opening, especially since America is currently in such a state of political turmoil.
Official Review – American River: Tributaries
Review By: ZenaLei7
Review Date: September, 17, 2017
Review Rating: 4 out of 4
Following is excerpted from an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “American River: Tributaries” by Mallory M. O’Connor.
American River: Tributaries by Mallory M. O’Connor is book one of the American River Trilogy. Written in the third person perspective, the story is told through various characters… As each of the characters struggle to find love, acceptance, or even peace, their fates are linked in a way that will lead to both happiness and heartbreak.
The suspense and the tension between the characters as well as the characters themselves made this an interesting book to read. Not only were they realistic, but they were also relatable. The struggles of the characters to find love, acceptance, and purpose is what made them easy to relate to… I like how the author incorporated art and music into her book as it made the book more unique.
Overall, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Because of the complex storyline and the realistic portrayal of the characters, I found this book to be an enjoyable read. I recommend this book to those who like to read historical fiction novels.
Post Number: #1 by ZenaLei7 » 17 Sep 2017, 16:35. The above review is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “American River: Tributaries” by Mallory M. O’Connor. Review Source: Online Book Club
Official AMAZON Reviews
Rating: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Review Title: A well-crafted historical novel.
Whatever flaws we might identify or frustrations we might feel are trivial in comparison to a reader’s pure joy in losing himself/herself in a narrative. When all the elements come together: an intriguing plot, thoughtful, profound themes, complex, troubling, characters, and language that will unsettle for its clarity, directness and confidence; we gratefully set all analysis aside and give ourselves up to the sheer magic of a great book. And for me, American River: Tributaries, is such a book.
Author Mallory M. O’Connor weaves a compelling and gripping historical drama, with intriguing twists and turns that will easily captivate the reader’s attention from the beginning. The author paints a dynamic and spellbinding tale in a very vivid and convincing way. In addition, the characters are drawn with great credibility and conviction. It was a slow-paced novel at times, but it still kept me engaged from the first page to the last.
The story had every element a good story should have. An exciting plot, attention to detail, but best of all fleshed out, well-written and well-rounded character development. There’s an abundance of well-illustrated scenes that make you feel like you are right there in the story, and that’s something I really look for in a good book.
The book description gives a preview of this first installment; ‘In the mid-1800s, three immigrant families—Irish, Japanese, and Mexican—settle along the American River in Northern California. A century later, only one family remains.
Owen McPhalan’s Mockingbird Valley Ranch is still a thriving family business in 1959. But when his wife, Marian, leaves Mockingbird to follow her dream of becoming a successful artist, she ignites a firestorm that impacts the descendants of all three families. As artists, musicians, writers, and politicians inherit their immigrant parents’ hopes, they are torn apart by ambition, prejudice, and deception while struggling through the turbulent 1960s. From the concert halls of Europe to Kyoto’s ancient avenues, and Manhattan’s artist’s lofts to San Francisco’s North Beach, they each learn the price they must pay in order to realize their dreams. But just as the river is drawn to the sea, they eventually find themselves pulled back to the place that forged the original link between their destinies—a place called Mockingbird.
American River: Tributaries follows three California families as the descendants of Irish, Japanese, and Mexican immigrants embark on unique journeys to pursue their dreams amid an unsettled 1960s world.’
Now, if that’s not enough to get your whet your appetite, I don’t know what will. But if you want to find out what happens, you’ll just have to turn the pages for yourself! However, I will say it was well worth the read. It’s my first time reading this author and I must say I was very impressed.
Captivating and commendable, this work had me immersed from the beginning. The story flowed from scene to scene with ease, and the author shows exceptional ability when it comes to storytelling. There are plenty of attention-grabbing moments in this page turner that will take the reader on a truly fascinating and intriguing journey of discovery!
It’s one of those books that comes along occasionally that makes you want to read it non-stop until you get to the end. I’m giving nothing further away here. And this, I hope, will only add to the mystery and enjoyment for the reader.
If this book is anything to go by, I’ll certainly be looking forward to reading more from Mallory M. O’Connor in the future. I would recommend this book and could easily see this being adapted as a television series or even receiving a Hollywood treatment. A well-deserved five stars from me.
Format: Kindle Edition | Verified Purchase
American River is a well written historical novel centered on the lives of several immigrant families in northern California. The story wraps the lives of these families around passion, politics, immigration, bigotry, California cuisine, classical music and the historical events of the 1950s and 60s to create a dramatic read that is reminiscent of Howard Fast’s immigrants series from many years ago. At times the book seems to get bogged down in details, but while these details slow the pace they also add to the sense of being there with the characters. American River is definitely a page turner, and I look forward to reading more from this talented author.
In O’Connor’s (American River: Tributaries, 2017.) novel, the descendants of three families that settled along California’s American River in the mid-1800s intersect a century later.
The story begins with an extensive ancestral introduction to the McPhalan, Morales, and Ashida families, whose successes and misfortunes set the stage for future deep-seated resentments. Then the narrative jumps ahead to 1959, and O’Connor proceeds to spin a dizzying web of interrelationships and betrayals among all three clans.
The novel is engaging throughout, providing some interesting details of California history.
What my readers are saying…
O’Connor’s brilliant first novel weaves a complex tapestry that shows us that immigrant bigotry did not start with Trump’s call for a wall.
— Hilary Hemingway, author of Hemingway in Cuba
“A real page turner, with several generations of fascinating characters in complex, intertwined relationships. One also gets a sense of the history of Northern California and wonderful descriptions of places, landscapes, and seasons.”
— Diana Kurz, artist, New York City
Reviews posted on Amazon
I like the way birds, nature, music, geography, sense of place, history, and art are woven into this three-family story of struggle, love, racism, homophobia, and loss. I look forward to the next two books which will complete the trilogy.
The character development was so interesting! This is my favorite kind of a novel!
I find her writing lyrical, and her plot compelling.
I’ve been reading Mallory O’Connor’s new book, AMERICAN RIVER. She manages to deftly conduct a full orchestra of people and events that slide from one place and one set of characters to another as she tells the accumulative life story of family and friends who called the Sacramento Valley home. Her love of place and her skill at weaving separate tales into a splendid whole will make us all eager for Book Two and Three of her River Trilogy.
American River: Tributaries was featured as Book of the Day on the OnlineBookClub.org site February 18. it was a lot of fun to get feedback from book club members! Please visit a dedicated page for the OnlineBookClub.org comments by clicking here. Thank you.