Rafting or canoeing on a swift flowing river is a passion for many people, with the actuality of such a trip a dream come true. Wynn and Jack, two friends meeting in college, find that they share this love and have taken several such trips during their academic careers.
Heller follows them on an adventure in northern Canada canoeing on the Maskwa river. The background and descriptions supplied by the author are sufficient enough to allow any reader to vicariously experience the trip with the boys. But the events depicted also make for a rousing adventure story that will make the novel an excellent read.
At the onset of the trip, Wynn and Jack are flown by plane with the idea that after the trip ends the pilot can be telephoned to come and pick them up. But, after several days of voyaging they detect a huge forest fire starting behind them and realize that they cannot turn back but must continue on to a point from which a pickup can be arranged.
Continuing on, they meet two men halted and getting drunk. The boys tell them about the fire and continue on. Further along they hear a heated argument between a man and a woman coming from the fogbound shore area and decide that they should be left alone. The next day they spot a man, alone, paddling along and decide to investigate the whereabouts of the woman.
The interactions between the fire, the boys the two drunks, and the man and woman provide the ingredients for the story. A well told adventure tale and one that will engage the reader and keep him or her riveted to the book.
3/19 Paul Lane
THE RIVER by Peter Heller. Knopf (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0525521877. 272p.