“Dear River” Review

English Teacher Makes A Splash With Astounding Debut Book

Rachel Sobylya teaches AP Lang and Houston Community College English along with writing poetry.

Courtesy of Finishing Line Press

Rachel Sobylya teaches AP Lang and Houston Community College English along with writing poetry.

Joshua Piper, Staff Writer

Cinco Ranch English Teacher Rachel Sobylya, has had her first book published. Dear River, Sobylya’s debut poem chapbook, conveys how her childhood in Appalachia affects her perspective of the world and furthermore, life. Having been her student aside, Dear River is worth a read by anyone who enjoys poetry

Sobylya separates her poetry into two sections with the first one entitled “The South”, and the second one entitled “Everywhere Else”. In “The South”, Sobylya describes scenes from her childhood in order to familiarize the reader with the beliefs she was raised with. Sobylya does so eloquently as she pulls the reader into the world of Appalachia. “Sensabaugh Tunnel” is a highlight as Sobylya reminisces on a time where she and a group of friends entered a tunnel that is supposedly haunted. Sobylya manages to capture the immaturity of their actions in hindsight, but also creates the suspense and chilling atmosphere that existed in those dreadful moments under the damp tunnel ceiling. The reliving of Sobylya’s childhood through the lens of her current attitude on these experiences creates a fog that distorts the memory being discussed.

However, Sobylya forces the reader to search deeper in the words to find answers it seems were hard to find for her as well.”

— Joshua Piper

This allows the audience to see the emotions that Sobylya attaches to those memories in retrospect. It induces a feeling that one can only see flashes of the full image which leaves readers with a yearning to uncover the full meaning of each poem. This creates an obligation to keep reading to fully comprehend the memories of Sobylya’s youth. However, Sobylya forces the reader to search deeper in the words to find answers it seems were hard to find for her as well. “The South” eloquently allows the reader to live through the emotions of Sobylya’s youth while inducing the need to decipher the words due to their simplicity in definition, but complexity in emotional meaning.

“Everywhere Else”, the second half, displays how the memories and views Sobylya gained from Appalachia have shaped her perspective on her life outside of Appalachia. “Suburb 4:00 A.M.” exemplifies her Appalachian views in the midst of a suburban lifestyle. She reveals a melancholic reminder of her home as the brilliant stars she used to see in her Appalachian sky have been replaced by faux stars of the LED street light variety. A lingering inner turmoil appears as Sobylya begins to reconcile her childhood with her adulthood.

The confession of homesickness leads an epiphany, Sobylya had to leave her home in Tennessee to understand how every experience there, good or bad, creates this indelible sense of home in the breathtaking landscapes of Appalachia.”

— Joshua Piper

“Dear River”, the final poem, conveys Sobylya’s longing to see a river, perhaps one like the Nolichucky River on the cover. The pensive tone expresses that Sobylya could never find another place like her home in Appalachia. The confession of homesickness leads an epiphany, Sobylya had to leave her home in Tennessee to understand how every experience there, good or bad, creates this indelible sense of home in the breathtaking landscapes of Appalachia.

“Dear River” is a fantastic read, deserving to be on a shelf next to poetry books such as “Milk And Honey” by Rupi Kaur. There is an intrinsic beauty to each poem and Sobylya invites the reader to explore her life through still photographs as she weaves together vivid emotions behind these images.

If you would like to read ”Dear River” it can be found on the Finishing Line Press website.

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/dear-river-by-rachel-sobylya/