The River by Peter Heller

A Cori and Lisa pick!

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Holy smokes! Despite its relative brevity, Heller has delivered a beautiful, heartbreaking, and engrossing adventure. I was immersed from the beginning, and I devoured this in a day. This is one of those books that can be hard to describe what it’s about, but its use of multiple themes is what will make it appealing to a wide range of readers. At its simplest, it is a best friends adventure story. Jack and Wynn are on an epic canoe trip on the Maskwa River in northern Canada before they head back to college in the fall. Their leisurely journey quickly begins to go sideways with a forest fire moving their way and the mysterious behavior of the few people they encounter in this isolated area, the tension begins ratcheting up immediately. The thriller aspect will keep you turning the pages as you strive to sort out the confusion along with Wynn and Jack. On yet another level, the deep, rich descriptions of nature read like some of the best narrative nonfiction. In particular, the water and the fire reflect the ebbs and flows of the experience, both its beauty, danger, and constantly changing pace. - Cori

From Penguin Random House:

Wynn and Jack have been best friends since freshman orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. Wynn is a gentle giant, a Vermont kid never happier than when his feet are in the water. Jack is more rugged, raised on a ranch in Colorado where sleeping under the stars and cooking on a fire came as naturally to him as breathing. When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddling and picking blueberries, and nights of stargazing and reading paperback Westerns. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey. When they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank and decide to warn them about the fire, their search for the pair turns up nothing and no one. But: The next day a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the man they heard? And, if he is, where is the woman? From this charged beginning, master storyteller Peter Heller unspools a headlong, heart-pounding story of desperate wilderness survival.