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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Go As a River by Shelley Read

Read's debut novel is gorgeously written, with vivid details of mid-century Colorado, moments that change everything, impossible decision-making, heartbreak, and hope.

You can be a good girl, a good horse, you can obey, you can love, but don't expect that if you do right then right will come to you.

Victoria is the last surviving female in a family of difficult men, living on a rural Colorado peach farm--its existence in that place and time a miracle and a testament to her father's creative farming and skill.

Her brother is jealous and cruel; her uncle has become bitter and petty since his fortunes have changed; and her father seems broken by the terrible tragedy and loss their family sustained when Victoria was young.

Victoria is the glue holding the family together, and she's never considered doing anything but her duty.

Wilson Moon is a drifter displaced from his tribal lands, and a chance meeting between Wil and Victoria shifts the paths of their lives forever.

We are one and all alike if for no other reason than the excruciating and beautiful way we grow piece by unpredictable piece, falling, pushing from the debris, rising again, and hoping for the best.

Victoria's life changes dramatically. Driven by instinct and survival, she responds to the challenges of the wilderness, unforgiving weather, and seesawing temperatures. She realizes she must make an impossible choice--one with heartbreaking repercussions.

Much of the book is about putting one foot in front of the other despite unimaginable devastation; finding the strength to go on despite few options; and the surprise of new determination and hope after years of pain and loss.

Read brings Go As a River to life through the sights, sounds, and wildlife in the high Colorado forest; the grip of a farming lifestyle along the churning Gunnison River; and the rhythm of life dictated by the peach orchard.

An epistolary section is illuminating, if convenient, and it sets up the buoy of hope and version of resolution that closes the book.

The planned-flooding aspect of the novel is based on the true story of the destruction of the town of Iola, Colorado, in the 1960s.

I loved the immersive details of Victoria's life, her stalwart manner, her strength, and her perseverance.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

This is Shelley Read's debut novel.

The tone of the book reminded me of another book I loved, Elizabeth Hardinger's All the Forgivenesses, which I mentioned in the Greedy Reading List Six Historical Backlist Favorites.


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