Where the River Ends | Charles Martin

July 4, 2011



I bought this novel last summer with the intention of balling my eyes out almost immediately. However, it took me until yesterday to actually pick it up and finish it. I started this book several times and couldn’t get past the few pages. Right now, after having finished it, I can not tell you why.

When I picked it up yesterday, I couldn’t put it down.

Spoilers to follow.

Where the River Ends is about the end of Abigail Grace’s life and how her husband, Doss, deals with it. She is the beautiful, wealthy daughter of a Senator from Charleston, and he is a struggling artist. The meet, fall in love, get married without her father’s permission, and then embark on a fourteen year marriage fill with many memories that ends in heartache. Abbie is diagnosed with cancer that spreads fast, and her four-year battle ends with a bucket list that takes her and Doss to the St. Mary’s river on the Georgia/Florida border.

In her final days, she requests to fulfill this list, especially “All the way from Montiac,” a desire to take the 130-mile trip on the river to the ocean.

This story is beautiful.

One of my favorite lines is when they are near the end of their journey, and Abbie expresses that she wishes they could finish her list. And Doss replies, “I wish I could take your place.” It’s beautiful and tragic. And anyone ever been in love agrees.

One of my favorite lines from a literary point-of-view is: “The bottom is an ugly place to be. Problem was, I had a few floors yet to fall before I reached the basement of us.”

Let’s just say I cried a lot. It is so beautiful to read the agonizing death of this woman from the point-of-view of her husband. It is agonizing, beautiful, and touching. I love the male POV here because it makes me feel like I am his wife, that I am the one dying, and I am watching him prove how much our marriage is worth, how far he would travel to be with me until the very end.

There are some downfalls, though, that distracted me at times. Some of the dialogue between young Abbie and Doss was a bit cliche and unoriginal. Not too much, though.

One of my biggest problems was with the plot. During their voyage, they encountered various characters that were trying too hard to be unique. The “action” along the way distracted me from the emotional story being told. It felt like a mystery/thriller at times when it shouldn’t have been. I wanted to delve deeper in Doss’s emotional struggle with his dying wife, than watch him fight the men who’d been following them for days. I know the backwoods of South Georgia can be crazy and weird and filled with all kind of folk; I’m from there.

The last problem I had with this novel was the ending. I loved Abbie’s passing; very beautiful. But the “tying of loose ends” with the Senator was rushed and unbelievable. The amount of rage inside that man could not have been resolved overnight with one letter from his dead daughter. I could read an entire novel following the reparation of the relationship between Doss and his father-in-law; the struggle and emotional battle that would be. Instead, it occurred over a couple of pages.

All in all, I loved this novel. Very emotional; very real at times in terms of what cancer is and how it destroys you. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who wants or needs a good cry.


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