Reviewed By Patricia Day
In A Rising Tide of People Washed Away by Scott Archer Jones, young Gerald Matthew Roger Whittington is a survivor, which is just as well because his parents are deadbeats, each more interested in their own addictive pursuits than the well being of their children. They sell Juanita, their daughter, and disclaim little GMR – as he prefers to be called. Their other child becomes a gang member. GMR wants no part of his family, preferring to live on the streets. The neighbors are pretty much all losers, wrapped up in their individual worlds of drink, drugs, and more insidious habits. Nevertheless, they wrap themselves around young GMR, protecting him. When City Hall passes legislation to build a bridge in town, the fragility of their frugal lives is immediately threatened. The residents come together to fight, and try to save their neighborhood and keep the normality they are used to, not savoring change.
At times, I got lost amid the myriad of characters, but wanted to follow the life of young Gerald. Poor little wretch spends his life accepting handouts to survive. Some can be trusted; others not. I felt sad for him. I liked most of them – despite their habits. But some were of very questionable character and I wanted to yell ‘don’t trust him or her.’ This book will make you thankful for all that you have. GMR has lived and breathed seediness his entire life and deserves better. It is not an easy read. It is an eye-opener to a world few of us have ever seen, and hopefully never will. No profanity but many questionable situations. A tough read. The story kept my interest.
Reviewed by Maria Beltran
Scott Archer Jones’ A Rising Tide of People Swept Away takes us right in
the heart of Albuquerque’s less privileged class where we meet a series of
curious characters, one as thought provoking as the other. Gerald
Matthew Roger (GMR), a ten-year-old boy, escapes from a troubled home
and survives by rummaging for food around Albuquerque’s strip shopping
center, which is dominated by Rip’s Bar and Package Liquor run by Tenn
and Lavinia. What follows is a parade of personalities, some likable,
others dreadful, as they try to hide him from his abusive family. When a
new bridge is proposed to be constructed across the Rio Grande, the
community is threatened and their personalities are further revealed as
each of them is forced to make tough choices.
A Rising Tide of People Swept Away is a fascinating novel that lets the
reader go on a revealing journey through the lower socio-economic part
of the Albuquerque Bosque. Author Scott Archer Jones focuses mainly on
his characters so that perhaps we will understand why they behave the
way they do. Everyone will certainly feel for GMR, the little boy who has
made the difficult choice of living on the streets rather than stay with his
alcoholic parents and abusive brother. His plight exposes an odd collection
of characters as Scott Arthur Jones provides us a window into their hearts
and souls. And the view is not always that appealing, but it is vivid and
real. As an external turn of events looms over all of them, GMR’s freedom
is at stake. This is a must-read!
Reviewed by Raanan Geberer
A Rising Tide of People Washed Away by Scott Archer Jones is a novel
that takes place almost entirely within a seedy commercial strip in a low-
income area of Albuquerque. The strip contains a bar, a pawnshop, a
hairdresser, a bail bondsman, a taco stand, a combination locksmith and
Christian bookstore, and a taxidermist’s shop. As the book begins, the
merchants are talking about a youth whom they occasionally see running
through alleys and going through dumpsters. Some of them know who he
is — he’s GMR (he goes by his initials) – and he’s escaping a family of
heavy drinkers, drug users and thieves. Little by little, the merchants
adopt GMR, feeding him, giving him jobs in their stores, and even finding
a place for him to stay. But soon, they have other problems as well. The
city wants to build a bridge that would go right through the heart of their
district and would demolish their stores.
In A Rising Tide of People Washed Away, Scott Archer Jones does an
admirable job of depicting the book’s milieu. Even the shopkeepers have
a sense of hopelessness — they seem to be living from day to day. In a
way, it makes sense that GMR is a “good boy” who likes school and
sports. If he were a gang member and drug user, he probably would
have stayed with his like-minded parents. To keep the readers’ interest,
Jones also includes some episodes that aren’t directly related to the plot,
such as the locksmith’s mother’s imagined conversations with the Devil. I
won’t tell you how the book ends, but A Rising Tide of People Washed
Away is basically about the triumph of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming odds.
Reviewed By Joel R. Dennstedt
In A Rising Tide of People Swept Away, author Scott Archer Jones offers up a neighborhood of interesting characters brought together by personal history, need, and circumstance, to demonstrate the complex dynamics that occur between individuals and groups when caught up in a sudden crisis. A contemporary New Mexico town offers the unique setting for this in-depth exploration, where the center of focus is a young boy of eight or nine or ten, who becomes the unintended project of an unlikely community of somewhat eccentric but very recognizable people. Individual compassion for GMR, the name by which the boy is called, attends his voluntary homeless status as he seeks survival from a physically abusive father and a morally corrupt mother. On top of this, the self-formed group that spontaneously arises – comprised of local shop owners and residents who often gather at RIP´S, the community bar and informal meeting place – must face the imminent dissolution of their odd but cohesive neighborhood due to the new bridge construction destined to dislocate them all.
In A Rising Tide of People Swept Away, Scott Archer Jones introduces us to his fascinating and realistic characters – as well as a descriptively precise evocation of place and repetitive local rites – with an accomplished author´s skill at providing stark credibility of circumstance, thoroughly believable dialogue, and acutely intimate personal relationships. The reader becomes the unseen character in this story, attending RIP´s come-togethers as a spectator, but also sharing as would a ghost the private thoughts and acts of lonely people in their homes and sanctuaries. In all, this literary neighborhood of folks speaks directly to the heart, and though not everything ends rosily, a reader is left feeling rather good about himself and optimistic that one lone soul at least may have found a fortunate escape. I loved the title of the book, and also the cover presentation.
Reviewed By Benjamin Ookami
In Scott Archer Jones’s A Rising Tide of People Swept Away, Jones has several characters living their seemingly simple lives in Albuquerque’s District Two from the summer of 2009 to the fall of 2010. A boy named GMR seems to be in everyone’s thoughts, but a much more troubling problem arises at a certain point: a councilman who sees statistics as the absolute truth wants to build a bridge that will change many of these people’s lives if they don’t find a way to stop it.
Readers will meet a lot of individuals with their own unique personalities throughout the book. Most of these characters end up at an establishment called Rip’s Bar and Package Liquor at one point or another. For the novel’s main conflict, there’s the deal with Benjamin Taylor, the councilman. The people who are against building the bridge form an organization that will come to be known as AABBA. Benjamin Taylor, the main antagonist, has a rather convincing argument for why the AABBA poses no threat to him. Jones puts a great deal of effort into illustrating the setting of this novel for the reader in the inaugural chapter. The characters are this novel’s major strength. The moral of this story is simple: anything can happen. I enjoyed it like a drinker enjoying a drink at Rip’s.
Jones had done it again. Given us characters so real you talk to them after you’ve finished the book. From Richard, the articulate, literary down and out pawn broker to Tenn the barkeep at Rip’s, the village green of this decrepit strip of the Bosque in ABQ. GMR is the cleaver, likable kid who the keeps from his “glow-in-the-dark toxic” family shows us the heart of the odd assortment hardscrabble neighbors and their fight to save their ‘hood from being disappeared by urban renewal (in this case a bridge) reveals individual secrets, weaknesses and tenacity.
Loved it! — “travel with attitude”
An illuminating journey through the lower socio-economic part of our country. I recommend it.