Review: River, Sing Out by James Wade

☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

Jonah Hargrove is celebrating his thirteenth birthday by avoiding his abusive father, when a girl named River stumbles into his yard, injured and alone. The teenager has stolen thousands of dollars’ worth of meth from her murderous, drug-dealing boyfriend, but lost it somewhere in the Neches River bottoms during her escape. Jonah agrees to help her find and sell the drugs so she can flee East Texas.

Chasing after them is John Curtis, a local drug kingpin and dog fighter, as well as River’s boyfriend, the dangerous Dakota Cade.

Each person is keeping secrets from the others—deadly secrets that will be exposed in violent fashion as all are forced to come to terms with their choices, their circumstances, and their own definition of God.

With a colorful cast of supporting characters and an unflinching violence juxtaposed against lyrical prose, River, Sing Out dives deep into the sinister world of the East Texas river bottoms, where oppressive poverty is pitted against the need to believe in something greater than the self.



My Thoughts:

River, Sing Out is a story of an abused boy with a heart of gold. Jonah Hargrove steps up to help a teenage girl on the run. She doesn’t offer her name, so Jonah dubs her River. Their tale starts out slowly, and both the story tension and plot pace quickly ramp as the threat to Jonah and River increases.

Author James Wade’s writing style is Hemingway-esque in its crisp, concise sentences. Mr. Wade’s writing perfectly portrays the desolate setting in Texas. The desperation, struggle and poverty are overwhelming. The point-of-view changes primarily from Jonah’s struggle for survival to Curtis’ battle with the cartel that controls his supply chain. There are some interesting messages about choices and consequences that are presented by an unnamed character that felt like the embodiment of death (a Grim Reaper of sorts). 

This story of good and evil, of struggle and survival is honest, violent and doused with caring. I couldn’t put it down, and it left me thinking about the philosophical questions presented. 


About the Author: James Wade is an award-winning fiction author with twenty short stories published in various literary journals and magazines. His debut novel, All Things Left Wild, was released June 16, 2020 from Blackstone Publishing. Wade’s second novel, River, Sing Out will be released June 8, 2021 from Blackstone Publishing.

James spent five years as a journalist, before serving as a legislative director at the Texas State Capitol during the 83rd Legislative Session. He also worked as a lobbyist on behalf of water conservation in Texas. 

James lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He is an active member of the Writers’ League of Texas. He is represented by Mark Gottlieb with Trident Media Group. 


© Copyright 2021 Book Junkie Reviews. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: