James Gaertner

From the River

This innovative and action-packed coming-of-age mystery is set in 1982, in the small fictitious town of Hopewell, Michigan. Three years after the death of his emotionally withdrawn father, nineteen-year-old Jake Burton is still attempting to understand who he was. As his life fails to gain traction after high school, Jake retreats to a secluded sanctuary near the river, gradually insulating him from reality and bringing his search for answers to a crawl.

At the river, a chance encounter with an elderly black man named Lewis Shields results in a fast friendship. When Jake’s best friend, Chris Messinger, returns from college for the summer, new details about Jake’s father come to light and Jake enlists the aid of Chris and Lewis to help him complete a recently discovered scheme of his late father’s, while at the same time hoping to rehabilitate his father’s somewhat reclusive image. His plan: Enter a grueling 70-mile canoe river race set to run past Hopewell in three months. While the three of them are all dealing with their own secrets, the river holds secrets of its own. At the same time as Jake struggles with several issues, he must also find a way to navigate the difficult path of his first real romance.

This page-turning novel is rich in friendship, mystery, romance, and above all, emotional growth. At times funny and heart rending, the story provides a glimpse of life in a small town and will especially appeal to those who have lost someone special and struggled for meaning.


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