A Memoir from Anywhere but Here
Angela Palm

“In Riverine, Ms. Palm lucidly sets out to divine how two fates can bifurcate. The result is that rarest of things: a book that lays bare the lives that are lived and not lived.”The Wall Street Journal

“[Riverine contains] volumetric power. . . . [s]izable intrigue. . . . [b]old declarations. . . . Angela Palm has left the river and returned to it. Angela Palm has arrived.”Chicago Tribune

About the Book

Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, spellbinding essays on place, young love, and a life-altering crime
Angela Palm grew up in a place not marked on the map, in a house set on the banks of a river that had been straightened to make way for farmland. Every year, the Kankakee River in rural Indiana flooded and returned to its old course while the residents sandbagged their homes against the rising water. From her bedroom window, Palm watched the neighbor boy and loved him in secret, imagining a life with him even as she longed for a future that held more than a job at the neighborhood bar. For Palm, caught in this landscape of flood and drought, escape was a continually receding hope.            
Though she did escape, as an adult Palm finds herself drawn back, like the river, to her origins. But this means more than just recalling vibrant, complicated memories of the place that shaped her, or trying to understand the family that raised her. It means visiting the prison where the boy she loved is serving a life sentence for a brutal murder. It means trying to chart, through the mesmerizing, interconnected essays of Riverine, what happens when a single event forces the path of her life off course. 

Additional Reviews

“Palm emerges from these pages as someone who . . . forges a new life for herself while never forgetting where she comes from.”Washington Post

“An incredibly personal and eloquent book. . . . Palm's memoir is lifeline and letter to the parallel universes we so often wish for.”Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“[A] perceptive memoir.”—Oprah.com, Powerful Memoirs by Powerful Women 

“[Palm's thoughts in Riverine are] well-put, often worth stopping and mulling over.”Newsday

Riverine is a powerful memoir about origins, familial ties and the inevitable shock when life’s trajectory takes an unexpected turn.”Malibu Magazine

“Few American writers are attentive enough to class and its determinative power. Palm is one of them, her book filled with sharp analysis of the relationship between place, social status, and ethos. . . . 'Riverine' is a strong first book.”—Christian Science Monitor

“Combining lyrical prose with a haunting narrative, Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize–winner Palm recounts a story filled with secret longings, family history, and musings on what might have been. . . . This is a memoir to linger over, savor and study.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Haunting. . . . Densely symbolic, unsentimental, and eloquent, Palm's book explores the connections between yearning, desire, and homecoming with subtlety and lucidity. The result is a narrative that maps the complex relationships that exist between individual identity and place. An intelligent, evocative, and richly textured memoir.”Kirkus Reviews *Starred Review*

“[Palm] does the hard work of essaying. Riverine stands as a bold reckoning with not only an individual's past and present but with the very apparatus of truth-making itself.”—The Millions

“[Palm’s] writing is easy to read, compelling and draws the reader in with its momentum. Riverine is about self-determination, the origin of deviance, and places, particularly the liminal ones. . . . Palm’s story is yet unfinished, but her memoir has an admirable structure and art of its own.”Shelf Awareness

“Moving meditations on how memories continue to affect one's ever-changing personality, however far away we may move.”Booklist

“Palm’s prose takes the form of water. She flows through a history of family and environment that could’ve so easily been washed away and forgotten had she not been diligent in remembering and telling. Too dope.”—Yahdon Israel, Lit Hub

“[Palm’s] writing is strong, quiet, and richly observed. . . . Riverine is an impressive debut — intelligent, tender, forthright, insightful. . . . this is one writer we’ll be eager to hear from again.”Washington Independent Review of Books

Riverine is a study in the persistence and permutations of place, even after it is fled, flooded, or violated. . . . Palm’s story constitutes a brisk, sweeping, and deep investigation of how places assert themselves on their inhabitants, even when, or especially when, those inhabitants grow up to live anywhere but there.”Orion

“[Palm’s] lyrical prose swims intelligently through reflection and memory. . . . By laying bare the most intimate traverses of her own mind, Palm guides us towards empathy, asking readers to consider the depths of our compassion.”Brevity Magazine

“Palm shows her flaws unabashedly. This is a person you want to know, or maybe you feel like you come to know her, to love her even. This is a beautiful story of coping, survival. . . . She tells the most satisfying story of unrequited love that I’ve ever encountered.”Hazel & Wren

Riverine is lyrical, surprising, and evocative, and one of the year's most powerful memoirs.”Largehearted Boy

“With a probing curiosity for the topography of both the land and the mind, Angela Palm maps out a world of deep quiet, loneliness, and sudden violence. Riverine reminds us that, while their land may be flat, the lives of those who populate our prairies and flood plains are anything but.”—Will Boast, author of Epilogue

“Angela Palm delivers a lyrical story—we come of age with her as she navigates a complicated landscape within and surrounding her. She breaks rules in life. She breaks rules on the page. Language is her essence here. There are sentences so arresting, I paused and paused and paused to absorb them.”—Molly Caro May, author of The Map of Enough

“Angela Palm’s Riverine is the stuff good memoir is made of: a personal narrative rich in metaphor and insight that finds meaning in those memories that confused us as children, made us squirm as adults. A truly lovely book crafted with exquisite language.”—Domingo Martinez, author of The Boy Kings of Texas

Riverine is a stop-and-think kind of book, and a stay-up-all-night kind of book, as well, a quest for a place that isn’t quite there, but that grows more real page by page, even as we rush to flee it. Angela Palm offers a fresh voice and shows us the heartland we’re least likely to hear about, those fruited plains dotted with prisons and parties and families that don’t quite fly, even as these chapters soar. A beautiful book, heartfelt but literary, blunt but poetic, moving and wise, funny, too. And best of all, a river runs through it.”—Bill Roorbach, author of Temple Stream and Life Among Giants

“Riverine digs deep into the soil of the past—river soil, corn field soil, flooded soil and stubborn soil—to find not only the roots of the future, in all of its mysterious convolutions and divergences, but also the possibility of futures that never came to pass. Angela Palm’s gorgeous candor sings urgently through these pages, her prose a tuning fork offering frequencies I’d never heard before.”—Leslie Jamison

“It sounds so trite to say, but I just fell in love with this book. And with Angela Palm, the Every Girl at the center of the story, with her observations on family and the stickiness of your hometown and neighborhood—you want so bad to leave, but when you do, you can't stop thinking about what's missing. About what you left behind. The boy you left behind. The boy who left you. Without spoiling it, Angela's journey towards and away from and eventually back to Corey, the love of her young girl's heart, honestly brought me to tears. It's one of those memoirs that brings your own memories, your own past, up to the surface as you read her recollections, her regrets, sorrow, and the joy. God, it just broke my heart over and over again.”—Stef Schmidt, Water St. Books, Exeter, NH

“Haunting and surprising, and yet immediately relatable, Angela Palm’s striking memoir sinks its roots deep into its readers, and holds fast. Everything ordinary, Palm reveals, is extraordinary—tragic, profound, amusing, brutal—when examined up close. In reflecting on her own formative years, growing up ‘between points on the map’ in small-town Indiana, she paints a measured but unforgettable portrait of the forces that break us free of our origins, and of those that inevitably call us back.”—Sam Kaas, Village Books, Bellingham, WA

“With Riverine, Angela Palm's probing intelligence sinks deeply into her past, especially the places and people that have shaped her personality, surfacing to show us what time has changed, and what's remained the same. She writes with disarming lucidity about the complexities of memory, community, family, the ties that bind, and the ties that come apart. Of her brother, Palm writes, ‘His mind didn't wake up with “Why?” in it like mine did.’ Why does life, and love, conspire to thwart Palm's kidhood dreams of escape? Why doesn't the center hold? Why write about it? Riverine's readers will be glad to meet Palm's inquiring mind, and grateful for the elegance of her answer.”—John Francisconi, at Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT