Go as a River (Hardcover)

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Go as a River By Shelley Read Cover Image
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Go As A River was in a stack of ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) on my desk and I picked it up a few days before its release date, thinking there was a chance I might finish it before then. I didn’t, but I was enchanted by it immediately and amazed at how much I had enjoyed it when I did complete it.

Considering the basic elements of this book, it shouldn’t have appealed to me. It’s the story of a young woman coming of age. It’s historical fiction. It’s a debut novel. These are topics and genres I normally don’t gravitate toward, but I’m so glad I did. The author, Shelley Read, taught writing in Colorado for years before publishing Go As A River. What I enjoyed most in this book is the main character, Victoria Nash. By drawing a complete picture of Nash and her tribulations, Read also portrays the tribulations of small-town life in Southwest Colorado between the late 1940s through the early 1970s. In following Nash, her family, and those she encounters, you’ll learn about farming peaches, transplanting peach trees, flooding out towns to make reservoirs, and resilience, in humans and in nature.

March 2023 Indie Next List

“Fast paced and descriptive, the words never felt wasted. Set in the harsh reality of 1940s life, a teenage girl’s forbidden love stirs a small Colorado town where loss, prejudice, and rage prevail. As beautiful as it is devastating.”
— Paula Frank, Balin Books, Nashua, NH



Set amid Colorado's wild beauty, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story of a resilient young woman whose life is changed forever by one chance encounter. A tragic and uplifting novel of love and loss, family and survival--and hope--for readers of Great Circle, The Four Winds, and Where the Crawdads Sing.

"Beautiful . . . A striking first novel of love and strength and growth, set against the forests and rivers of Colorado's high country. Read is a gifted writer, and the book is a literary triumph."--Denver Post "With gorgeous descriptions of the great outdoors, an illicit love story, and an unforgettable protagonist, Go as a River offers something for everyone."--Real Simple

Seventeen-year-old Victoria Nash runs the household on her family's peach farm in the small ranch town of Iola, Colorado--the sole surviving female in a family of troubled men. Wilson Moon is a young drifter with a mysterious past, displaced from his tribal land and determined to live as he chooses.

Victoria encounters Wil by chance on a street corner, a meeting that profoundly alters both of their young lives, unknowingly igniting as much passion as danger. When tragedy strikes, Victoria leaves the only life she has ever known. She flees into the surrounding mountains where she struggles to survive in the wilderness with no clear notion of what her future will bring. As the seasons change, she also charts the changes in herself, finding in the beautiful but harsh landscape the meaning and strength to move forward and rebuild all that she has lost, even as the Gunnison River threatens to submerge her homeland--its ranches, farms, and the beloved peach orchard that has been in her family for generations.

Inspired by true events surrounding the destruction of the town of Iola in the 1960s, Go as a River is a story of deeply held love in the face of hardship and loss, but also of finding courage, resilience, friendship, and, finally, home--where least expected. This stunning debut explores what it means to lead your life as if it were a river--gathering and flowing, finding a way forward even when a river is dammed.

About the Author

Shelley Read's internationally bestselling debut novel, Go as a River, is being translated into over thirty languages and has been optioned for film by Mazur Kaplan in partnership with Fifth Season. She was a Senior Lecturer at Western Colorado University for nearly three decades, where she was a founder of the Environment & Sustainability major and the PRIME program for at-risk students. She holds degrees in writing and literary studies from the University of Denver and Temple University and is a regular contributor to Crested Butte Magazine and Gunnison Valley Journal. She is a fifth-generation Coloradoan who lives with her family in the Elk Mountains of the Western Slope.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781954118232
ISBN-10: 1954118236
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Publication Date: February 28th, 2023
Pages: 320
Language: English