Go as a River

Shelley Read

March 2023 Original publisher: Spiegel & GrauLiterary Fiction

On behalf of: Spiegel & Grau

A riveting and deeply moving debut—a love story that is both a stunning exploration of the natural world and an unforgettable coming-of-age novel.

Victoria Nash is just a teenager in the 1940s, but she runs the household on her family’s peach farm in the 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 in the Four Corners region, who wants to believe one place is just like another.

When Victoria encounters Wil on a street corner, their unexpected connection ignites as much passion as danger and as many revelations as secrets. Victoria flees into the beautiful but harsh wilderness of the nearby mountains when tragedy strikes. Living in a small hut, she struggles to survive in the unforgiving conditions with no clear notion of what her future will be.

What happens afterward is her quest to regain all that she has lost, even as the Gunnison River rises to submerge her homeland and the only life she has ever known. Go as a River is a story of love and loss but also of finding home, family, resilience—and love—where least expected.


“Shelley Read’s lyrical voice is a force of nature, and when she lends it to a woman leading a hardscrabble life in rural Colorado, the result is tragic, uplifting – and completely unforgettable” Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry

“Shelley Read has written a splendid tale of a young woman broken by circumstances who must find a way to forgive before she can love. Victoria Nash is a character for the ages as she navigates loss and despair on the road to redemption… Go as a River is a  stunning debut set in the soul of the American dream.” Adriana Trigiani, author of The Good Left Undone

“Shelley Read’s devastatingly beautiful debut, Go As a River, delivers so very much: the tenderness and curiosity of young love, the eternal pangs of loss, the brutality of racism, the sustaining power of nature even in the face of man’s destruction, and the precarious miracle of a mother’s love. Suffused with wisdom and compassion, this shattering testimony to life is one to be savored, treasured, shared.” —Meg Waite Clayton, internationally bestselling author of The Postmistress of Paris