Into the River of Angels: A Novel

Into the River of Angels: A Novel

I really enjoyed reading Into the River of Angels by George R. Wolfe. An exciting, high-paced young adult novel, the story is told from the perspective of seventeen-year-old Sam. Between his parent’s divorce, high school bullies, and a long, boring summer ahead, Sam is not the happiest. Feeling lost and disinterested in his life, he wants excitement, or as he puts it, a “raison d’etre.” Contemplating with his best friend, Ian, on what they can do to make this the summer of their lives, Sam gets a wild idea: to boat the LA river all the way to Saint Monica Bay from San Fernando Valley.

Ian, the more rational of the pair, strongly discourages this idea. After all, they may be strong swimmers but they definitely do not own a boat or even know how to row one. Not to mention, the water is dangerous and filthy, and their parents would kill them. But after taking these factors into account, Sam, a true renegade, decides this is all the more reason to make the trek. So, the story follows his journey as he does. Encountering all sorts of troubles, nightmares, and excitement along the way, Sam sure gets his wish for the most memorable summer of his lifetime!

Full of adventure, hot social topics, teenage crushes, and crazy feats, Into the River of Angels was a delight. Wolfe does an excellent job in his take on what a current-day teenage quest may look like. Sam’s character had to plan on leaving his phone, avoiding his parents, and dealing with truly dangerous situations, something current-day teenagers are not naïve to. Exploring topics such as pollution, homelessness, smugglers, gangs, immigration, and human trafficking, Wolfe writes in a way that is very relevant to the current generation, not shying away from these tough conversations.

I thought he did a fantastic job balancing so many heavy topics, as the book came out as an overall light and humorous read. Not to mention, I think Sam’s character is very applicable and relatable to the average current-day teenager. His feelings of hopelessness and confusion are something all teenagers go through and struggle with. I enjoyed watching his character develop from a rebellious boy to a self-aware young man.

Overall, I think adult readers and young adult readers alike would enjoy this fun novel. I would specifically recommend it to late middle school and early high school readers.