This was the secret I learned that day: none of them want to be saved. They all want to sink backward toward the earth again, to be swallowed by the ground, to keep sleeping. There is hatred on their faces when they are roused from the dead.Liz Moor, Long Bright River
I read this book in one day. I picked it up one Saturday morning, and told myself I’d only spend a few hours reading it, then I would move on to something more productive. Lo and behold, a few hours come and go and I’m still reading Long Bright River. Once I hit the halfway point, I realized there was nothing I could do to stop myself from finishing this book. As someone who works full time, my weekends are very precious to me, so I would never sacrifice one my days off on a book that was just mediocre.
This is the first book I’ve read from Liz Moore, and after finishing Long Bright River, I can guarantee you it won’t be the last.
If I still haven’t convinced you then please skip down to my 5 reasons I think you should just read Long Bright River. If that still doesn’t convince you, then I’m sorry, and I’ll work on my persuasion skills ASAP.
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In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak to anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.
Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit–and her sister–before it’s too late.
Alternating its present-day mystery with the story of the sisters’ childhood and adolescence, Long Bright River is at once heart-pounding and heart-wrenching: a gripping suspense novel that is also a moving story of sisters, addiction, and the formidable ties that persist between place, family, and fate.
5 Reasons I think you should read Long Bright River
1 – You’ll learn about Philadelphia’s opioid crisis
Liz Moore did a ton of research in preparation for writing this book, and it shows. The Philadelphia neighborhood where most of the book takes place is in Kensington, which is an actual Philly neighborhood that is strongly affected by the opioid crisis. In fact, Moore got to see the crisis first hand when she moved to Philadelphia in the early 2000s. She even taught a creative writing class in the Kensington area that was open to all people. Some of her students were recovering addicts. In this article from The Gaurdian, Moore goes into a little more detail about how her research and experience aided this story.
2 – There’s family drama that doesn’t quit
The family drama in this book is insane, and it stays that way throughout the book. We learn early on that Mickey and Kacey’s mother passed away from an overdose when they were very little, and their father left them not long after that. They were left in the care of Gee, their grandmother, who wasn’t the kindest or most loving of caretakers the girls could have had.
It’s interesting to see how two little girls, who grew up in the same exact environment, grow to have two very different lives. Mickey becomes a police officer, much to her family’s surprise, and Kacey becomes an addict and sex worker. Obviously these two very different paths the girls take makes for a very complicated sister relationship.
3 – The alternating chapters between past and present will keep you captivated
Just to be clear, every chapter is in Mickey’s perspective, and each chapter alternates between present and past. These alternating chapters allow us to see the progression of Mickey and Kacey’s relationship. As young girls, the two were very close, but as they get older things change. We basically get to see Kacey’s transformation from a sweet naiive little girl to a young adult whose life is controlled by addiction. We get a sense of what it’s like for Mickey to slowly lose the sister she knows and loves. We also get to see how Mickey ends up becoming a police officer, and how that decision impacts her relationship with not just Kacey, but the rest of the family too.
In all of the chapters set in present time, we see Mickey fighting to find her sister with the help of a few key players.
4 – There are multiple twists that you’ll (probably) never see coming
There’s the big overall mystery of what happened to Kacey, but there’s also a few other twists and turns that seem to come out of nowhere. I think I exclaimed, “What?!” way more than once while reading this book.
5 – There’s a host of complex characters
Obviously we have Mickey and Kacey, but wait there’s more!
- Thomas – Mickey’s 4 year old son, who is ADORABLE. Mickey raises him by herself, so the two of them have a very close bond. Everything Mickey does is for Thomas.
- Simon – Mickey’s weird ex-boyfriend. Not going to lie. Mickey’s relationship with this guy is all sorts of messed up.
- Mrs. Powell – The quirky downstairs neighbor/landlord/sometimes watches Thomas. We don’t really get to know the real Mrs. Powell until halfway into the book, and when you do get to know her, you will love her. She’s kind of a surprising character.
- Truman – Mickey’s hunky ex cop partner. The only reason he’s an ex partner is because of an injury he sustained when on the job. He tries to help Mickey find Kacey.
- Gee – Mickey and Kacey’s grandma, but I have to say she’s not much of a grandmother, like I mentioned before. She was more of a roommate that Mickey and Kacey had to live with after their mother passed away and their father left.
- Paula – Paula is Kacey’s childhood best friend, fellow addict, and sex worker. She also somewhat assists Mickey in finding her sister.
Just Read It
Need I say more?! Just read it already!
Let me know in the comments if you had a different reaction to Long Bright River. Just because I loved it, doesn’t mean everyone will. I always look forward to hearing what other people think, so don’t leave me hanging!
Enjoy this review? Make sure to also check out my review on Whisper Man!