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Authors: Wendy Dunham

My Name Is River

BOOK: My Name Is River
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Scripture verses are taken from

The New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible
, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Cover by Writely Designed, Buckley, Washington

Cover photo © altanaka / Fotolia

Published in association with William K. Jensen Literary Agency, 119 Bampton Court, Eugene, Oregon 97404.


Copyright © 2015 Wendy Dunham

Published by Harvest House Publishers

Eugene, Oregon 97402

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Dunham, Wendy.

My name is River / Wendy Dunham.

pages cm

Summary: River Starling, adopted under mysterious circumstances, has lived most of her eleven years on her grandparents' Pennsylvania farm but after Gram suddenly decides they must move to Birdsong, West Virginia, River finds an unlikely new friend, learns about God's love, and begins to feel at home.

ISBN 978-0-7369-6461-6 (pbk.)

ISBN 978-0-7369-6462-3 (eBook)

[1. Moving, Household—Fiction. 2. Grandmothers—Fiction. 3. Friendship—Fiction. 4. Christian life—Fiction. 5. Adoption—Fiction. 6. Missing persons—Fiction. 7. West Virginia—History—20th century—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.1.D86My 2015



All rights reserved.
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For Erin and Evan, who are the most loved, adored, and amazing children I could have ever hoped for.

I am so very grateful for you.




1. Moving Day

2. It's Gonna Be All Right

3. New Kid

4. A Birding Place?

5. Ecotones

6. Rock Hunters

7. The Meeting of the Whippoorwills

8. Another List

9. The Bucket

10. Gram Accepts

11. The Worrying Thing

12. Suet Cakes

13. Black Leather Boot

14. Hummingbird

15. Pinky Swear

16. Uncle Jay's Visit

17. Saving Gram

18. A Plan of Our Own

19. Good Ears

20. A Father Who Loves Me

21. Presentation Day

22. The Color of a Bluebird

23. Gather at the River

24. Yellow Roses

25. Little Bird on My Lip

26. Evidence

27. The Letter

28. Uncle Jay's Picture

Discussion Questions

About the Author


Heartfelt thanks to Ruth Samsel, my delightful agent, who believed in River right from the start.

And to Barb Sherrill, Peggy Wright, and everyone else at Harvest House who wrapped their arms around River and me and made us feel like family.

Before Ruth, Barb, and Peggy, there were others who provided inspiration—various writing friends, members of Rochester Area Children's Writers & Illustrators (RACWI) and WNY Word Weavers, and most notably my friend Wendy Dunn of Paper Dance Editing.

A big shout-out to Sam Files, a preteen and lover of books who, after reading an early draft, said, “This is the best story ever. I read it three times!” That was the fuel I needed. Thank you, Sam.

And to my parents, family, and friends I've known over the years, I thank you. For without you, I'd be empty and have no stories to share.


Moving Day

on't you worry now, Sugar Pie. Everything's gonna be all right.” Gram must've said that a million times over the last few days, and that's a pretty big promise to make to a grandkid.

But, truthfully, I don't think I've ever doubted her because Gram doesn't lie. She says, “Life ain't worth a hill of beans if you don't speak the truth.” And in Gram's book, even a half-truth measures up to a whole lie. But today, the day we're moving, I'm working hard at believing her.

Gram's in the kitchen double-checking our cupboards. She said the only thing she's leaving behind is mouse poop (not that I'd ever seen any). The cupboard doors bang as she yells up the stairs. “Label them boxes, Sugar Pie, with your name and what you got in 'em.”

Packing's a lot harder than I thought. Not the actual packing, that's easy, but the part about leaving everything behind. This old brick farmhouse is all I've ever known or at least all I can remember.

I push the last box to the middle of my room and write big black letters on the side:

River's Box


red flannel blanket

hockey pucks

baseball glove

ballerina jewelry box

I think about leaving the jewelry box behind but don't because it's from Gram. Plus that's where I keep my heart necklace.

My real name is River, but Gram calls me “Sugar Pie.” I've been alive for four thousand six hundred and twenty days, which means I'll be thirteen on my next birthday, and in all that time, I still haven't figured out why anyone would name their kid River. But that's the name I came with—to my adoptive parents, anyways. I thought babies were supposed to come into the world free of names and everything, but I came fully clothed, wearing a white and yellow checkered dress just the right size for an eighteen-month-old. And I only know that because Gram told me.

Gram said she was blown clear out of the water on the day my parents brought me home. She had no idea they were going to adopt. It was like I'd fallen straight from the sky, and when I asked why I was such a secret, she shook her head and said, “Sugar Pie, I haven't a clue. Your mother never did have the sense God gave a goose.”

Gram keeps a special picture of me on her nightstand. It's the picture she took that day. My mom (who is Gram's daughter) is holding me on her hip, and my dad (Gram's son-in-law) is standing behind with his arms wrapped around the both of us. I was actually cute—real chubby with a crooked little smile. Even then I had a ton of hair. It was curly all over the place and shiny brown like a chestnut. Hanging around my neck was a silver necklace with a dangling heart charm. On the front “River” was engraved, and on the back was 9-23-1970. I didn't come with a birth certificate, which Gram said was the most ridiculous thing she'd ever
heard. A lot has changed since then. First of all, I'm not chubby anymore. And second of all, my mom and dad are gone.

As far as my real parents go, I can pretty much guess I came to them the way most any kid does—plopped into the hands of a doctor, screaming at the top of my lungs, and completely naked. And since they gave me away when I was only one and a half, I can only guess I was unlovable too.

BOOK: My Name Is River
9.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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