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The Riverbed

Stefan Mattessich

Fiction / Fantasy

Fox is the teenage son of a single mom who has grown up poor and transient until he arrives in Orange, California, with his first chance at a sense of belonging. There he meets Axel, an eccentric loner with a hyperactive imagination who introduces him to the fenced off no-man’s land of a riverbed that winds through the suburban neighborhood where they live. There fantasy and reality collide in the stories they invent, the games they play, and the powers they resist. 


When Axel gets into trouble with the authoritarian pastor of his church, he runs away both for real and into his own fantasies. Fox goes looking for him in more ways than one, accompanied by his friend Angel, a Latinx girl with a critical mind and a singular sense of justice. What they all end up finding is the courage to be themselves and to care for one another in a world that doesn’t much value either.


The Riverbed tells the story of three intelligent young people coming to learn about the darker sides of the suburban dream they call home. Written in a fabulating style but with a realist’s eye for the details of place, history, and nature, it combines the moral seriousness of J. D. Salinger with the playfulness of a Wes Anderson movie. It will be loved by readers of all persuasions - those with their heads in the clouds no less than those with their feet on the ground.

Paperback: $16.00

Hardcover: $25.99

Ebook: $7.99

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