Go As a River [Book Review] #LiteraryFiction #HistoricalFiction #BookBlogger #BookTwitter #Colorado

Personal Update:
I’m back after an unexpected blogging/reading/reviewing break! I thought maybe I had cataracts but the suddenness of the symptoms and the online description of cataracts didn’t exactly match my symptoms, so I made an emergency appointment with the ophthalmologist on Wednesday October 18 to get checked out. The doctor determined I had a detached retina and indicated treatment was urgent and called a retina specialist to see me the next day at 8:00 a.m. (by the way, don’t eat breakfast in the morning) The retina specialist had me in outpatient surgery by 5:30 that afternoon. With strict orders not to lie on my back (sleep on left side only with cheek flat on mattress) and maintain a head-down position when sitting and walking, I was suddenly extremely limited in my activities. Today I had my second post-op visit and I’m making great progress and am more free in my head positions and to resume more usual activities. I had quite a large retinal tear (70%), and I’m soooo very grateful that my sight has been saved! Grateful also for the miracles of modern science and skilled surgeons! The big lesson: Don’t delay or procrastinate seeking medical attention! Thank you dear followers for your words of encouragement and prayers! Now, back to the business of reading and reviewing!

Go as a River is a compelling, memorable, and thought-provoking work of literary historical fiction.

Go as a River by Shelley Read

Go as a River by Shelley Read (cover) Image: black text over a photo of a ripe peach on a leafy branch

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Complicated Family, Coming of Age, Mid-century Rural Colorado

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of Go as a River

Victoria Nash’s family grows famous Nash peaches on their Colorado farm and orchard. One day, seventeen-year-old Victoria meets a young stranger that will change her life. This is a story of impossible choices, desperation, prejudice, heartache, and survival.

peach laden branch
Photo by Ian Baldwin on Unsplash

My Thoughts:

Yummy Peaches

I think one perfect juicy peach is a most delightful treat! What is your favorite way to eat fresh peaches?

Maybe a warm peach cobbler with ice cream is my favorite. But on another day, it might be fresh peach pie. Then there are addictive peach shakes at Chick-fil-A during the summer months!

You might want to plan ahead and have your favorite peach dessert within reach while reading Go as a River!

Historical Event

You will enjoy the time period and vivid descriptions of beautiful rural Colorado in Go as a River. I expected more about the event that flooded the town of Iola, Colorado. The mid-century man-made flooding simply receives a few mentions. The propulsive story is focused around the personal lives of one family in the valley and the politics of damming the river are the backdrop.


Go as a River is rich in symbolism. We know that the presence of water in a story can often be symbolic of rebirth, renewal, cleansing, new beginnings, redemption, etc. The river is mentioned many times as it physically connects locations, changes the landscape, and symbolically connects and changes lives.


Go as a River is rich in themes. Coming of age is a powerful recurring theme in the story, as well as loss, grief, emotional abuse, neglect, sacrificial love, resilience, reconciliation, second chances, unpredictability of life, racism, intolerance, facing and overcoming obstacles, survival, difficult decisions, burying (covering in flood water) our past, and hope for a better future.


Fans of compelling literary historical fiction, a memorable character, and complicated family drama will appreciate this well written and thought provoking coming-of-age story. Sensitive readers might find some content troubling. However, I found the ending infused with hope and reconciliation. Book clubs will enjoy many discussion topics.

Content Consideration: emotional abuse, neglect, survival, adoption

Rating: 5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Go as a River by Shelley Read (cover) Image: black text over a photo of a ripe peach on a branch

Meet the Author of Go As a River, Shelley Read

Author of Go as a River, 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.


Have I enticed you to read this story?

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

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    • I might be finally cured of procrastination! I’m so thankful my sight was saved! Happy to hear we both enjoyed Go As A River!

    • Thanks Jonetta! If I had gone in when I first noticed changes in my vision, it probably could have been fixed more simply. It was sooo unexpected!

  1. I’m so relieved that you had that operation so quickly and you’re recovering nicely.

    I read this novel earlier this year (I received an ARC via a GoodReads giveaway). It’ll probably be on my top 10 books for 2023.

  2. I’m so glad you’re on the mend, Carol. What a frightening experience! We are fortunate to live in a time and a place where expert medical attention exists. I’m glad you’re able to read again. do I dare add Go as a River to my TBR? If it were a real stack of books, I’m afraid it would reach to the moon!

  3. How scary, Carol. Praise the Lord that you found the right doctors and are on the mend. I also loved this book and found it very thought provoking. I agree, a great book for bookclubs. You highlighted some great quotes.

  4. Wow, good call on your eyes! I recently had flashes and new floaters and the doctor took it very seriously, but it was OK (for now.)
    About Go As A River, I have read it and loved it! But it goes further than that. As soon as I started it, I had to look it up and see if it really happened. Oh yes! A newspaper article in 2017 said that the water in the reservoir was so low they could see traces of Iola! The flagpole stand, the remains of the church and school….And I thought to myself, I bet Shelley Read saw that same article (and went to see it!) and got the idea for this book. And in a coincidence, my youngest brother lives in Gunnison, and when I asked him about it, he said, Oh, he hiked in the Iola area and sometimes took the dogs for runs there. He knew about the flooding. So he went right out and bought the book and recognized some of the locations mentioned in the book right away. He found out that Shelley Read has a house in Crested Butte, where he delivers Fedex packages and in fact, has delivered to her house! So, then, he saw that she was to be featured at a book event nearby within the month, and he went. He said she was shy and surprised that he, a 58 yr old male, had enjoyed her book. He bought a signed copy and sent it to me! So it has a real connection to me and my brother.

    • I’m glad you had your eyes checked. I guess detached retina can happen painlessly and suddenly, so go back in quickly if anything changes!

      Oh wow! Thanks for sharing about your brother! That’s a great connection!

  5. Hi Carol, I’m so pleased to hear your eye issue has been sorted and you are on the mend. How scary for you, I know eye issues can be problematic from personal experience but a detached retina doesn’t sound like much fun at all.
    I’ve also read Go as a River and enjoyed it, your review is fabulous and covers so much that i didn’t even think about. I found it a bit slow to start with (a bit like a river) but the more I read the more I got into it. A great review. Take care and hope you’re well on the way to recovery now.

    • Thank you Debbie! My recovery seems to be progressing well! 🤞🤞🤞 a detached retina caught me by surprise! Never entertained the idea or knew to worry about it! Now I’m telling everyone to get an eye exam!

      Yes, the story became more and more compelling as it went along!

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