RÍO PENITENTE, a novel of expiation
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Robert Gattling’s gone south—literally: touring Mexico in a Mercedes bus turned RV—and figuratively, or so his friends think. Well-liked, well-made, well-off, why this baffling impulse to throw it all over and wander away—looking for what? He knows it’s redemption he’s seeking, but can’t pin down the transgression that’s prompted the guilt. Not far south of the border he comes upon Berto and Conchita, teenage runaways, cavorting in the Río Penitente. Despite warnings to leave them be, he takes them up, hoping to redeem himself by reforming them. Along the way he falls in love with Selina and, though afraid it’s a fools errand, decides to woo her and straighten out the kids simultaneously. Can he? He’s all-in, betting on an inside straight. Will the “river” be the card that’s eluded him all his life?