Jodi Thomas spins another heart-tugging tale, and "The River and the Wall" is a well-documented and beautifully photographed adventure

Masters and his team of explorers captured on film their 1,200 mile journey down the Rio Grande from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico, seeking to understand how building a border wall would affect wildlife and landscapes along the river, and whether it would actually be much of a deterrent to illegal immigration.

 

Three five-year-old girls enjoy their first tea party together and become friends for life in Amarillo author Jodi Thomas’s well-crafted new novel, The Little Teashop on Main (HQN, $15.99 paperback). A boy one year older, Jack Hutchinson, is welcomed into their tight circle as well, and he begins telling their story as the novel opens at a cemetery: “I’m the one who loved all three. Always have. Probably will through eternity. But I don’t fool myself. They don’t belong to me. If anything, I guess, I belong to them.”

 

The story unfolds in the fictional small town of Laurel Springs, Texas, the setting for Thomas’s last novel, Mornings on Main. Zoe O’Flaherty is hosting the tea party, joined by Emily Waters and Shannon Morell. It goes so well that they plan to have one every rainy Saturday. The story picks up thirteen years later as they go their separate ways after high school. Zoe heads to New York to become a star, Emily can’t wait to go to school far away from home and her domineering mother, and Shannon is off to the Air Force Academy. But their bond of affection remains as tight as ever through the years, through good times and bad.

 

If you’re a Jodi Thomas fan, you probably can’t wait to pick up this new story. If you haven’t read anything by her, The Little Teashop on Main is a great place to start.

 

The Rio Grande: Ben Masters, author and producer of the book and film Unbranded about mustangs, is back with another well-documented and beautifully photographed adventure, The River and the Wall (Texas A&M University Press, $35 hardcover, sponsored by the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University). Masters and his team of explorers captured on film their 1,200 mile journey down the Rio Grande from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico, seeking to understand how building a border wall would affect wildlife and landscapes along the river, and whether it would actually be much of a deterrent to illegal immigration.

 

The trip convinced Masters that “Detection matters, but that can be done with technology that doesn’t steal land from thousands of Texans, block access to the only river running through a desert environment, and forever halt the north-south flow of wildlife on a continental scale. “We can’t wall our way to comprehensive immigration reform,” he concludes, adding “We can’t deport our way to it either.”

 

A companion film, The River and the Wall, premiered in Austin on March 9 and is showing at theaters nationwide this month. For a list of theaters and ticket availability, go to the web site www.theriverandthewall.com.

Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.