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Reviewed by Scott Albert for Readers' Favorite
Crossing the River Sorrow: One Nurse’s Story is written by debut author, Janet Richards, a mother, wife, and nurse turned writer/mixed media artist. This emotionally realistic story, by Westbow Press, is an autobiographical 222 pages, broken into 28 chapters or vignettes that explores Personal Growth & Inspiration. Adding quotes from authors like Blake and Shakespeare, Richards writes in first person. She uses a conversational tone and minimalist detail to keep readers engaged and turning the page. Starting in 1961, Long Island, she describes the love, loss, and lessons learned in her life, including becoming a nurse. She uses the metaphor of River Sorrow to move her narrative along setting a somber tone through 28 chapters. This unique perspective faces some of life’s more troubling questions and how she found answers in her faith in God.
Richards is a talented writer, making creative analogies like “Not everyone who swims the River Sorrow will see all the good that the Bible promises...” And after watching patients sitting in a nursing home says she’s been shown “the all-encompassing power of God that is perfected in their weakness and vulnerability…” She compares her journey down this River Sorrow as a parable paralleling the Bible’s descriptions, so there’s a message within the narrative along with some social commentary that sets the tone of her experiences. Some of this reads like a diary - creatively non-fiction. Issues like her decision to leave nursing on little more than a whim, “slipping out without much forethought” and a conclusion that describes her faith in the Bible and Jesus, made this deeply emotional, even cathartic, at times. Looking for an autobiography of a retired nurse who has inspirational and religious insights to share? You’ve found a real gift.