Not The Same River

Fiction - Anthology
307 Pages
Reviewed on 05/23/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Not The Same River is a work of fiction penned by author W.A. Polf in the short story anthology, literary fiction, and interpersonal drama genres. Readers are invited into an intriguing and emotive collection of stories featuring ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Themes of ethical dilemmas and the shaping of the future are explored through diverse settings, including a paperboy's profound choice, a woman's marriage decision after witnessing her husband's tragic fall, and a man's life-altering encounter with a stranger. The narratives span locations from 1960s San Francisco to the Scottish Highlands and an Iowa farm, capturing the timeless struggle between shaping our destinies and being shaped by them.

Author W.A. Polf has a knack for showcasing varied and emotionally stirring characters, which has resulted in an emotionally rich and thought-provoking read in this accomplished and interesting anthology. The bold and atmospheric storytelling style vividly brought to life the diverse settings, from the bustling streets of 1960s San Francisco to the stillness of the Scottish Highlands and beyond. Each story delved deep into the characters' psyches, confronting them with moral and existential dilemmas that felt both personal and universal. I enjoyed the narrative viewpoints that allowed us close access to the characters’ speech and actions, but still let us explore and read between the lines for ourselves. The exploration of whether we shape our futures or are shaped by them builds slowly and with great accessibility to its deeper meaning, gently prompting us to reflect on our own life decisions and leaving us with much to ponder after the book is finished. Polf's nuanced portrayal of the human condition, set against a backdrop of extraordinary circumstances, made for an extremely well-penned, compelling, and relatable read. Overall, I would certainly recommend Not The Same River for fans of literary fiction and character-driven storytelling everywhere.