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  • Tracy Sherlock

Go As A River: Coming-of-age story flows with resilience, hope

Go As A River

By Shelley Read

Penguin Random House Canada


I don’t want to spoil this one, because surprise is a key part of its charm. But it’s not only got the unexpected, it’s also got love, family, pride, shame, tradition, loss, nature and more.

Go As A River is the story of Victoria Nash, who is 17 years old when we meet her, walking down the street in a small Colorado town called Iola. Iola is a real place – a town that was flooded intentionally in 1966 when the Gunnison River was dammed to create hydroelectricity. Victoria's story begins 18 years earlier in 1948.

Victoria – everyone calls her Torie – is delivering peaches grown on her family farm when she meets Wilson Moon, a stranger. He’s about her age and covered in coal soot and dirt, a rag tag young man. Torie and Wilson fall in love at first sight.

This isn’t a spoiler – it happens within the first few pages of the book. But it’s difficult to go any further in their story without giving something away, so I will just say it’s a touching and tragic tale filled with resilience, strength and sparks of hope. It’s a coming-of-age story with elements of racism, the wonder of the natural world and the inevitability of change.

This is the first book for author Shelley Read, who lives in Colorado and has taught writing and literature at Western Colorado University for nearly 30 years. Go As A River, with its deft writing and true tone, kept me up late reading for two nights and sadly, on the second night, I finished it. I will miss it.


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