Go As A River reads as the title suggests… like a river. I felt no need to jump ahead or know the endings. Even though I read it fairly quickly, it never felt rushed or urgent. Shelley Read has hit a home run with her first novel.
This is a beautiful story, lushly told from the perspective of a young woman who finds herself inexplicably drawn to a young man she meets on the main street of her small town: Iola, Colorado. That ‘chance’ meeting will have huge impacts on both of their lives and will reveal the depths of love and loss that changes lives. The power of the connection between Victoria Nash and Wilson Moon is etched in the fibres of the universe and nothing that either would do could stop it from running its inevitable course. The heartbreaking outcome of this relationship will see Victoria running from her stable life as a daughter of a peach farmer to a life in the forest scratching out an existence for herself and her unborn child. The writing is exquisite and I felt like I was experiencing the same glorious forest sensations. As Victoria was desperately trying to survive, she was also trying to quiet herself enough to be able, as Wil would say, to “go as a river”—the need to endure juxtaposed against the incredible draw and gifts of the natural world.
Layered under this tragic love story is another tale of devastation. In the 1950’s, the US government began the process to create the Blue Mesa Reservoir, a plan that would mean damming of the Gunnison River and flooding of Victoria’s hometown, Iola, Colorado. By 1966, an entire community was erased and ceased to exist.
Victoria’s life journey is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the contradictory power of love and bigotry.