Book Review: Go As A River

Just as a single rainstorm can erode the bank and change the course of a river, so can a single circumstance of a girl’s life erase who she was before…

Shelley Read ~ Go As A River


Victoria Nash is just a teenager in the 1940s, but she runs the household on her family’s peach farm in the 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 in the Four Corners region, who wants to believe one place is just like another. When Victoria encounters Wil on a street corner, their unexpected connection ignites as much passion as danger and as many revelations as secrets. When tragedy strikes, Victoria flees into the beautiful but harsh wilderness of the nearby mountains. Living in a small hut, she struggles to survive in the unforgiving conditions with no clear notion of what her future will be.

What happens afterward is her quest to regain all that she has lost, even as the Gunnison River rises to submerge her homeland and the only life she has ever known. 


This may be one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.

A true coming of age story, we follow Victoria through a series of hardships and heartaches that shape her into the woman we see her become. She is young, naïve and in love, yet risks everything and leaves the safety of her home, living in fear to protect herself. It’s a sad tale, with tragedy after tragedy befalling this young woman, yet each one shows the strength she possesses and Read weaves threads of hope, determination and courage throughout.

The prose is lyrical, perfectly capturing the diverse landscapes of Colorado and painting a vivid picture of the beautiful, deadly wilderness. Read writes with passion and knowledge, tackling subjects of racism, mental illness and war with compassion and care.

At this book’s heart is the peach. This fruit has fed and nurtured Victoria’s family across multiple generations and it represents love, community and resilience. Although there are some excellent human characters in Go As A River, they fade into insignificance compared to the landscape and the orchards, which will steal your heart and soul.

If I were being critical, I would say that the end is a little too tidy, but it is no less heart-warming after so much sorrow.

In fact, there is very little to fault in this spellbinding novel: the storytelling is compelling, the subject fascinating and this is an outstanding debut.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thanks to Doubleday for my proof copy. Opinions my own.

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