"An exhilarating tale delivered with the pace of a thriller." -Kirkus (Starred Review) A BookPage 2019 Most Anticipated Book A LitHub 2019 Most Anticipated Book
From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars, the story of two college students on a wilderness canoe trip--a gripping tale of a friendship tested by fire, white water, and violence
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.
About the Author
PETER HELLER is the best-selling author of Celine, The Painter and The Dog Stars. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in both fiction and poetry. An award-winning adventure writer and a longtime contributor to NPR, Heller has been a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men's Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Kook, The Whale Warriors, and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
"Urgent, visceral writing--I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. A beautiful, heartrending exploration of male friendship."
–Clare Mackintosh, bestselling author of Let Me Lie
"Using an artist’s eye to describe Jack and Wynn's wilderness world, Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist Heller has transformed his own outdoor experiences into a heart-pounding adventure that’s hard to put down."
–Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Peter Heller has struck gold again with The River … Masterly paced and artfully told, The River is a page-turner that demands the reader slow down… The River thrills as Heller invites his characters to confront their own mortality without losing sight of the deep connections between humans and their environment."
—Lauren Bufferd, BookPage (Starred Review)
"Two college friends' leisurely river trek becomes an ordeal of fire and human malice… Heller confidently manages a host of tensions... and his pacing is masterful as well, briskly but calmly capturing the scenery in slower moments, then running full-throttle and shifting to barreling prose when danger is imminent… Fresh and affecting… An exhilarating tale delivered with the pace of a thriller and the wisdom of a grizzled nature guide."
–Kirkus (Starred Review)
"Suspenseful… With its evocative descriptions of nature's splendor and brutality, Heller's novel beautifully depicts the powers that can drive humans apart—and those that compel them to return repeatedly to one another."
"Heller once again chronicles life-or-death adventure with empathy for the natural world and the characters who people it. He writes most mightily of the boys’ friendship and their beloved, uncompromising wilderness, depicting those layers of life that lie far beyond what is more commonly seen."