A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Monday, March 23, 2020

The River by Peter Heller- Feature and Review


The story of two college friends on a wilderness canoe trip—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?



The RiverThe River by Peter Heller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The River by Peter Heller is a 2019 Knopf Publishing Group publication.

An intense adventure between man and nature amidst a battle between good and evil…

Two close friends, Wynn and Jack, one from Vermont and the other from Colorado, each with different temperaments, decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada. They have dreams of taking it slow and easy, kicking back and enjoying nature at its finest.

However, a wildfire changes the tone of their trip, adding a sense of unease that intensifies when, after hearing a couple arguing, they attempt to warn them of the fire, but can’t seem to locate them in the fog. The next day they encounter a man paddling alone on the river, who claims his wife has gone missing.

From there Wynn and Jack find themselves in a taut, dangerous situation as they search for the missing woman, while the wildfire builds to a crescendo.

Wow! Talk about white knuckle suspense! This book is less than three hundred pages long, but sometimes the best things come in small packages.

The story is packed with exceptional and stunning scenery one can truly envision, and the characterizations are just incredible. I understood fully the different personalities Wynn and Jack possessed, how they each had definite and strong opinions about how to approach their unexpected dilemma. The precision timing carries the story from a relaxed excursion to a nightmarish race against time with exceptional pacing that kept me on the edge of my seat.

I would agree the story could and should be labeled as a thriller, but it’s much more than that. So much happens in such a short span of time, it isn’t until the final chapter that one has the chance to really stop an reflect on all events leading up to that moment, and how quickly one’s life can drastically change.

The deep emotional impact remains long after the final page is turned. This thought- provoking story was released in 2019 and the message was clear and profound enough at that time. Everyday life poses at least some risk and can turn on a dime, as we have witnessed in the past few weeks, making an already disquieting story about coping with random, unforeseen events feel even more timely than usual.

I’m pushing the ‘recommend’ button on this one.

All the stars for this one!






Peter Heller holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in both fiction and poetry. An award-winning adventure writer and longtime contributor to NPR, Heller is 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.

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