Book Review: Go as a River by Shelley Read

Posted February 28, 2023 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 27 Comments

Go as a River
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

by Shelley Read
Publication Date February 28, 2023
Published by Doubleday Canada
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Genres: Fiction / Coming of Age, Fiction / Literary, Fiction / Women
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2023

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

In the spirit of Where the Crawdads Sing, and set amid the beauty and wilderness of the Colorado mountains, an unforgettable and deeply moving story of a young woman who follows her heart

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 but determined to live as he chooses.

Victoria's chance encounter with Wil on a street corner profoundly alters both of their young lives, igniting as much passion as danger. When tragedy strikes, Victoria leaves the only life she has ever known, fleeing into the nearby mountains. Taking shelter in a small hut, she struggles to survive in the wilderness, with no clear notion of what her future will be. As the seasons change, she also charts the changes in herself, finding in the natural world the strength and meaning that set her on a quest to regain all that she has lost, even as the Gunnison River rises 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 midst 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 the river is dammed.

Go as a River by Shelley Read is a beautifully written, poignant story about one woman’s journey after a fateful choice that changed her life forever. 

Story Recap:

Victoria Nash is a teenager in the 1940s living on her family’s peach farm.  As the only woman in the family, she learned to run the household early.   She meets a mysterious stranger in town, Wilson Moon (Wil), a young drifter from the local tribal lands.  Although dusty and grimy, Will has kind eyes and Will and Victoria are immediately drawn to each other.  However, a white woman with a native man is not acceptable to many in those times and tragedy ensues. 

My Thoughts: 

Hard to believe this novel is written by a debut author.  The writing is beautiful and drew me right in.  I also loved the setting of southwest Colorado.  I’ve visited that area of the country many times, and some of the locations of the story are very familiar to me. 

The blurb didn’t grab me and when I got to this book, I wasn’t excited to read it.  But, from the very first page, the writing and the story drew me in and I found myself engrossed in the story immediately.  It’s also a book I continue to think about long after I read the last page.  


I highly recommend Go As a River to anyone who enjoys fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Shelley Read

Shelley Read is a fifth generation Coloradoan 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.

UK Cover:

I like both covers, but this UK version has the river on the page.

Book Challenges:

Go as a River counts towards my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2023.

Have you read Go as a River? Which cover do you prefer?

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2023

27 responses to “Book Review: Go as a River by Shelley Read

  1. Funny that you weren’t eager to read it, but somehow you requested it. I also have this book to read and am looking forward to it more now that I have read your wonderful review. There have been some great debut books in the last little while.

  2. I love it when you read a debut author and you can’t hardly believe it’s their first book. It’s bee a while since I was blown away like that. And I just love the UK covers, it’s so beautiful!

  3. Rosie

    I do enjoy it when you add the different covers. I like both of these, where sometimes there is a distinct difference and I do have a favourite.