#BookReview: Go As A River by Shelley Read #HistoricalFiction @SPIEGELandGRAU #WomensFiction


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.


This is more than just a coming-of-age story. This is a story of a metamorphosis. It is about a girl who gains a level of fierceness, wisdom, and independence that doesn’t occur under normal circumstances. It is exquisitely written.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read the work of an author who made me feel everything she had written quite so deeply before. As I experienced this novel, I could see the mountains and feel the rain on my skin. I could taste a peach after a long period of starvation, and I could feel the agonizing, numbing heartache that vibrated off the page. Anger, terror, love, sacrifice—it is all there, and every bit of it envelops the reader and draws them in. Torie’s story was so well told I became a part of it as I drank in every word. It was an absolutely beautiful, sorrowful pleasure to read. Now I’m going to tell you this is Shelley Read’s debut novel. Yep. A star is born. And I’ll be looking forward to her next book.

My rating is actually 5.5 stars, because the one category I rate up to a 6, “How Does It Make Me Feel,” was over the top!

I received a free copy of this book from Spiegel & Grau via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.


Shelley Read is a fifth-generation Coloradan who lives with her family in the Elk Mountains of the Western Slope. She was a Senior Lecturer at Western Colorado University for nearly three decades, where she taught writing, literature, environmental studies, and Honors, and was a founder of the Environment & Sustainability major and a support program for first-generation and at-risk students. Shelley holds degrees in writing and literary studies from the University of Denver and Temple University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing. She is a regular contributor to Crested Butte Magazine and Gunnison Valley Journal, and has written for the Denver Post and a variety of publications.



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12 thoughts on “#BookReview: Go As A River by Shelley Read #HistoricalFiction @SPIEGELandGRAU #WomensFiction”

  1. Excellent review, Bonnie. The story must really tug at the heart’s strings, since it is based on the destruction of Iola, Colorado. Iola was destroyed when the Blue Mesa Dam was built on the Gunnison River. On my list. Thanks for reviewing it and bringing it to my attention. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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