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In the 1960s, the town of Iola, Colo., and two nearby towns were deliberately submerged under water when the Gunnison River was dammed to create the Blue Mesa Reservoir. Inspired by these true events, Go as a River, set in Iola beginning in 1948, invites readers into the life of 17-year-old Victoria Nash.

Victoria’s family owns and operates a peach orchard, and their produce has won them acclaim. However, though the family has experienced success, a traumatic accident that happened when Victoria was 12 years old altered their life forever. Now, as the sole remaining female in her family, she is expected to do the cooking, cleaning, other household chores and work in the orchard. Obedient and compliant, Victoria puts up with her surly uncle, her menacing brother, and her grieving father, stumbling into adulthood without a woman to teach her the ways of her maturing body.

Everything changes when Victoria meets Wil Moon, a young Indigenous man who wins Victoria’s heart. But Iola offers no welcome to a person like Wil or to what it suspects is a relationship between a white young woman and an Indigenous man. When malevolent people commit an unspeakable crime, Victoria is set on a life-altering path, fleeing to the wilderness in order to survive. There she discovers much about suffering, love, nature, and hope, and her desperate choices set off a chain reaction with consequences for decades to come for another family with whom Victoria’s path crosses.

In this moving novel for adults, though not written from a Christian perspective, author Shelley Read, through Victoria’s character and her reminiscences of her strict Christian mother, deals with questions and misunderstandings about God’s will. Read also deals with the subjugation of nature in the name of progress, injustice perpetrated against First Nations people whose land was taken over by white people, ongoing discrimination against Indigenous people, and the traumatic implications of the Vietnam War for American men and their families.

Followers of Jesus will recognize the fingerprints of God in Read’s sumptuous, detailed descriptions of the majesty of God’s created world and might be reminded of the apostle Paul’s words, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). Contains some profanity and violence. (Penguin Random House)

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