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Shelley Read is an international bestselling author popularly known for her book Go as a River which has been translated into over 30 languages. She worked as a senior lecturer at Western Colorado University for almost 30 years. At the university, she taught literature, writing, and environmental studies. Shelley is a graduate of University of Denver with a degree in writing and literary studies. She is a regular contributor for the Gunnison Valley Journal, Crested Butte Magazine and has written for Denver Post and several other publications.
Go As a River is Shelley Read’s debut novel published in 2023. Nestled in the captivating wilderness of Colorado, this coming-of-age tale unfolds, portraying the life-altering journey of a resilient young woman through the twists of fate. It seamlessly blends tragedy and inspiration, exploring themes of love, loss, family, survival, and the enduring flame of hope.

At seventeen, Victoria Nash finds herself shouldering the responsibilities of her family’s peach farm in the quiet ranch town of Iola, Colorado. She stands as the sole surviving female amidst a backdrop of troubled men. In contrast, Wilson Moon is a young drifter, shrouded in mystery, cast away from his tribal roots, and determined to live life on his own terms.

Their paths unexpectedly cross on a chance encounter that sets in motion a profound transformation in both their young lives. Unbeknownst to them, this meeting sparks not only passion but also danger. When disaster hits close to home, Victoria is forced to leave behind the only life she has ever known. She escapes into the unforgiving embrace of the mountains, where she grapples with the challenges of wilderness survival and uncertain future.

As the seasons ebb and flow, Victoria undergoes a profound transformation, finding meaning and strength in the rugged yet beautiful landscape. She embarks on a journey of self-discovery, determined to rebuild all that she has lost, the cherished ranches, farms, and the peach orchard that has been a cornerstone of her family for generations.

The year is 1948, and the peaceful town of Iola, Colorado, serves as the backdrop for a fateful meeting that alters the course of seventeen-year-old Victoria ‘Torie’ Nash’s life. This chance encounter with a mysterious newcomer disrupts the quiet rhythm of her life and sets in motion a series of events that will reshape her world in ways she could never have imagined.

Victoria days are marked by the routine of caring for her father, uncle, and younger brother, and it’s a life she’s grown accustomed to, even if it doesn’t entirely fulfill her.
Wilson Moon is a captivating enigma, claiming to be a drifter who navigates life like a river, following his own chosen path. Yet, there’s more to Wil than meets the eye. As a Native American in the small town of Iola, his presence raises suspicions and concerns among the locals, who associate him with trouble.

Victoria finds herself irresistibly drawn to Wil, and their love affair ignites with a passion that matches the danger that shadows their relationship. Meanwhile, Torie’s troubled brother, Seth, and his friends are hot on Wil’s trail, motivated by the reward placed on his head.
Amidst their passionate yet perilous romance, tragedy lurks, casting a shadow over their lives. When tragedy finally strikes, Torie must summon every ounce of her inner strength and bravery to heed Wil’s advice: to go as a river, embracing the unpredictable course of life.
Shelley Read has woven a lyrical and moving tale. It’s evident that the author’s deep love and intimate knowledge of Colorado’s landscape infuse the story with a unique sense of place and authenticity.

The characters in the novel are brilliantly portrayed, with a special focus on Victoria herself, who undergoes a remarkable transformation as the story unfolds. Victoria’s journey is one of coming of age and evolving into a resilient and self-reliant woman.
Throughout the narrative, Victoria faces a relentless onslaught of life-altering challenges and changes that could easily have overwhelmed her. All these pushes her into the depths of despair. Despite the immense adversity she encounters, she refuses to succumb to it.
As she matures and demands to be recognized as an adult, Victoria draws a clear line between the pain of her past and the hard-won optimism of her present and future. Her resilience is not displayed in a militant manner but rather in the way that many people persevere when faced with no other choice. By taking one step at a time and moving forward with unwavering determination.

The protagonist, Victoria, adopts a remarkable perspective on her life, embracing both its positive and negative aspects. She recognizes that even in the midst of terrible moments, something good can emerge, and this belief is validated in her journey. Go as a River doesn’t present a fairytale, but rather a realistic portrayal of life’s hardships, brought to life by its beautifully written prose.

One of the novel’s compelling themes is the idea of leaning into life. Embracing both the current and the contrary tides, and exploring where they might lead. As the story unfolds, Victoria’s own life experiences take her to a place where she actively shapes her destiny. Despite enduring traumatic events from her past, she remains open to life, love, and connection, even as she grapples with the worst aspects of humanity.

Victoria’s journey highlights the importance of taking an active role in steering one’s life, even when faced with overwhelming emotional challenges. The novel addresses difficult subjects such as racism, discrimination, alcohol abuse, PTSD, loss of parents, childbirth trauma, abandonment, and violence, handling them with sensitivity.

As a coming-of-age novel, Go as a River offers a compassionate and moving portrayal of a young woman’s quest to find her place in the world. It delves into the full spectrum of the human condition, acknowledging the hardships while celebrating the beauty that can emerge from them. Ultimately, it conveys the idea that while some aspects of life may be uncontrollable, there comes a time when one’s decisions can shape a better future, and the flow of life can be steered toward healing and personal growth. The novel’s rich descriptive prose is likely to resonate with readers who appreciate authors like Kristen Hannah.

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One Response to “Shelley Read”

  1. Wyn Neary: 2 weeks ago

    Congratulations Shelly on your beautiful novel!!!I still think of it several days after reading! I am looking forward to more to come !!You must have a beautiful soul since i cannot remember feeling so touched since reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte !!Good luck with your next book,I look forward to it !!!!!!X

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