Read with Sharon - January 2024

Go as a River - Shelley Read

For many of us, the town where we grew up is encoded in our conscience and provides us a sense of home and belonging. As adults, we often visit those places of our childhood and the memories we made there. Many of us never leave our hometowns or return there to live, raise our families or retire. But imagine if the place where you grew up was gone forever, flooded and resting at the bottom of a lake? Would you grieve the loss? I know that I would.

Loss and resilience are the themes of Shelley Read’s Go As A River, and is my pick for this month. Inspired by true events surrounding the destruction of the town of Iola in the1960s, it is a story of love in the face of hardship and of finding courage and a sense of home where it is least expected.

This month, we will be joined by Shelley Read to discuss this incredible story. Please note the change in date. We will meet in Thursday, February 1 at 7:00 pm EST via zoom. I look forward to seeing you then.

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On a cool autumn day in 1948, Victoria Nash delivers late-season peaches from her family’s farm set amid the wild beauty of Colorado, then heads into the village. As she nears an intersection, a dishevelled stranger stops to ask her the way. How she chooses to answer will unknowingly alter the course of both their young lives.

So begins the mesmerising story of split-second choices and courageous acts that propel Victoria away from the only home she has ever known and towards a reckoning with loss, hope and her own untapped strength.

A stranger comes to town.

Colorado native Read sets her graceful debut novel in the small community of Iola, a town along the Gunnison River in the western part of the state. Iola, readers learn in the first pages, no longer exists: It was flooded when the Gunnison was dammed to create the Blue Mesa Reservoir. 


Go as a River - Shelley Read

Book Club Questions


  1. What did you 1. think of Victoria?
  2. Many of the characters in the novel are shaped by the losses they have suffered. Why do you think Victoria can move forward in her life, while many other characters cannot?


  1. The author based Go as a River on a historical event – the destruction of the town of Iola, Colorado, which now lies at the bottom of Blue Mesa Reservoir. Discuss the way the idea of ‘home’ is treated in the novel. What makes a home?
  2. When Victoria and Wil meet, Victoria has spent all of her life in one place, whereas Wil is a drifter. How does this contribute to who they have become?
  3. What do you believe happened next for Victoria, Inga, Zelda, and Lukas after the final lines of the novel?


  1. Did it work for you? What would you have changed?
  2. What do you think is the author’s message to readers of Go as a River?
  3. What did you take away from the book?
  4. Are you left with any questions?


  1. Did you notice any symbolism?
  2. What foreshadowing did you notice? 


  1. Use one adjective to describe the writing itself.
  2. What would you change if you could rewrite Go as a River?


  1. What did you love most about the book?
  2. Did the book change any views/opinions that you have?

Go as a River - Shelley Read