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Dede Montgomery's 'Beyond the Ripples' explores the ties that bind people together.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - 'Beyond the Ripples' by Dede Montgomery will be released in May. Years ago, Dede Montgomery wrote a note, secured it in a bottle and threw it in the Willamette River near Wilsonville. The bottle traveled down the river, over Willamette Falls and was eventually found by a West Linn man who sent it, along with a letter of his own, back to Montgomery.

This story is the inspiration for Montgomery's first novel, "Beyond the Ripples," which comes out this May and is already available as an e-book.

Montgomery hadn't expected the bottle to connect her with this man from West Linn, but that's exactly what happened and that's the kind of human connection that's so important to her she decided to write a book about it.

"Ultimately it's about two middle-aged women who become very close friends through a path that might not ordinarily happen because they're very different," Montgomery said. "They come from different lives, but they become very close friends and together they have a bond that allows them to both move into what they need next in life."

Montgomery's book also contains elements that will sound familiar to Oregonians.

"It's important to me to be able to show what I know about our state in a book because I love to read books about Oregon," she said. "I remark quite a bit about the change in Oregon, change in Portland, the nature of growth."

Willamette Falls appears in the book too, because, just like in Montgomery's childhood, the message in the bottle travels over the falls to an unexpecting recipient.

Though "Beyond the Ripples" is Montgomery's first novel, writing has long been a part of her life.

In 2016, she came out with a memoir called "My Music Man;" she writes on her own blog, and even as a young girl, she considered herself something of a writer, and not just of bottled notes.

"I've always loved to write and there's a lot of writers in my family," Montgomery said.

She said her father was a journalist and her grandfather an author of four books.

Even after growing up around writers and coming from a writing lineage, Montgomery is still honing her craft.

Writing "Beyond the Ripples," taught her "don't compare yourself to other writers and other successes and trust yourself," she said.

Montgomery said she expects to continue writing. She has a couple of ideas in mind but is unsure if her next work will be another novel or a set of short stories.

Fellow Oregon author Jenny Forrester called Montgomery's novel, "an enduring, reflective and soulful read for a winter's night."

Montgomery will celebrate her new book with the West Linn community at a launch party at Willamette Ale and Cider House 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19 and at a book signing 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22 at the West Linn Public Library.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the date for Montgomery's book signing. The book signing is 2 p.m. Satudrday, June 22 at the West Linn Public Library.

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