Published 2012, Loren DeShon, 376 pages

Silas Jacobson is 17 years old and works the family farm with his father, brother and sister.  The Jacobson family has suffered tragedies:  a young sister who died in an accident and the death of Silas’s mother.

Silas’s father is mired in grief for the loss of his wife.  Both his sons work hard on the farm to clear land for crops, while his daughter takes over all the household chores.

Silas’s father is not the only one suffering.  Silas is carrying a burden of grief and guilt.  He desperately wants to leave the farm and make a new life for himself.  He tells himself he’ll just help clear this one last field and then he’s on his way.

Silas confronts his father about his morose attitude and lack of involvement with his surviving children since his wife’s death.   His father takes those words to heart and invites his sons duck hunting.  It’s been so long since they all did something together both boys are eager.  An accident during their foray leaves their father dead and Silas burdened even further with guilt.

After his father’s funeral, Silas sets out for the Mississippi River and a steamboat taking him anywhere – just away from the farm and horrific memories.  He hops aboard the sidewheeler James Munroe headed for St. Louis.

Silas’s youth is evident throughout Redemption on the River.  It doesn’t take long before he’s involved in fisticuffs and hooks up with friendly, but less then savory, characters on the boat.  He barely arrives in St. Louis when he racks up an enormous debt and makes a mortal enemy.

Silas is one green young man with a lot of life lessons ahead of him.  A typical teenager of any era, decisions are made according to which hormone is raging at that precise moment.  Unless Silas grows up and develops common sense, he’s on the path to losing more than he can ever hope to regain.

There is powerful incentive for Silas to awaken and assume accountability for his actions, but will he?  Furthermore, can he come to terms with his past and find peace?  Will the struggles for personal growth and realization that there’s more to the world than just Silas Jacobson cost him dearly?  All good questions posed in Redemption on the River.

Crooks, double-dealing dealers, thugs, slaves, prostitutes, the Underground Railroad, heroes and heroines all populate the pages of this fast paced historical fiction novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed Redemption on the River.  Silas, with all his teenage flaws, is great entertainment.  What truly delighted me was Loren DeShon’s wit.  Historical fiction is usually dramatic fare.  Redemption on the River is historical fiction with rollicking humor.  An unusual combination I’d like to read more.

**Contains sexual content**

MY RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

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