Go as a River - Shelley Read

Go as a River

By Shelley Read

  • Release Date: 2023-02-28
  • Genre: Fiction & Literature
Score: 4.5
From 583 Ratings



* Finalist for Goodreads Choice Award * Colorado Public Radio 2023 Books We Love *

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.


  • Beautiful

    By Won't let on
    So much to say but can't find the words. Beautiful. I was entranced. This is a story that will stick with me for a while. I loved all the simple sentences that had so much meaning. I loved the courage and grit shown by Victoria. I'm sad it's over.
  • Heartbreaking

    By Whitmben
    I read this in mostly one sitting (something I never do); I couldn’t put it down. The emotion it elicited! So many tears. Such beauty in the description of the land and the main character’s connection to nature.
  • A touch your heart story

    By Pielwsp
    Beautiful, touching story. I couldn’t put it down. Shed many, many tears. Read this book.
  • Heartbreaking and mending all at once

    By Emichav2017
    This book does an exceptional job of describing motherhood, history, and resilience. Creative language and storytelling paint a compelling palpable image in the reader's mind. This book perfectly blends heartbreak, grief, anguish, camaraderie, strength, and love! I highly recommend it. As a Colorado native myself, I particularly enjoyed the accurate elements of nature and the incorporation of describing our beautiful mountains.
  • Enormously heart felt?

    By Mauri in Paradise Valley
    When I started I wasn’t sure I would finish. It is worth every page. So beautiful, so soulful. Read this book! Bravo Shelley!
  • Beautiful, gripping story

    By Great Music Luvr
    Exquisitely written novel, flawed and proud female protagonist. This one will stick with me.
  • Beautifully written emotional story

    By princezz24789
    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. Recommendation: 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.
  • A river runs

    By Redneck RN
    An epilogue would have been nice