Once Upon A River

Once Upon A River

A Novel

Book - 2011
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Bonnie Jo Campbell has created an unforgettable heroine in sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, a beauty whose unflinching gaze and uncanny ability with a rifle have not made her life any easier. After the violent death of her father, in which she is complicit, Margo takes to the Stark River in her boat, with only a few supplies and a biography of Annie Oakley, in search of her vanished mother. But the river, Margo's childhood paradise, is a dangerous place for a young woman traveling alone, and she must be strong to survive, using her knowledge of the natural world and her ability to look unsparingly into the hearts of those around her. Her river odyssey through rural Michigan becomes a defining journey, one that leads her beyond self-preservation and to the decision of what price she is willing to pay for her choices.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, c2011
ISBN: 9780393079890
Branch Call Number: CAMP
Characteristics: 348 p. : map


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Jan 03, 2016

This is a good book club selection; beautifully written and lyrical. I found Margo and her later day river travels to be reminiscent of Tom and Huck's discovery adventures.

Mar 05, 2013

A strange and compelling read, I never warmed to Margo or any of the characters, except the dogs, yet I was fascinated and could not stop turning the pages. Beautifully written the words flow very much like the river, lyrical, almost poetic is scope, yet at times both cold and unemotional. With such complex and deep themes, Once Upon A River is a book that I know I will be mulling over for some time and Bonnie Jo Campbell is an author that I will not hesitate to revisit.

Jun 16, 2012

Young girl with a shotgun. What's not to like?

Apr 13, 2012

A compelling story of a teeange girl who is forced to make her own way in the world. Margo is a complex character and the book deals with many issues. Not a light hearted book but very worthy of reading.

Dec 20, 2011

Very richly-told, evocative story.

Like other readers who have commented, I didn't feel a strong connection to Margo, but that didn't make the book any less enjoyable, somehow. I think it's because although I could not relate to how Margo lived and the choices she made, I can see that such a young woman may exist out there somewhere, who makes just these choices.

Dec 15, 2011

At first, I kind of enjoyed the book, but I'm getting really tired of her skinning fish alive (because she thinks they don't feel pain - what?! are you serious?), shooting deer after deer, and dealing with revenge issues. And, honestly, I'm so tired of the whole gun culture this girl lives in. Although she's presented as quiet, but 'smart', she seems almost cartoonishly stupid in many ways, as well as amoral and oddly emotionless. Ultimately, I'm bored with how she goes from man to man, gets raped, doesn't seem to respond to the rapes, etc. The idea that she was raped by a beloved uncle, but had to take a year to decide how she 'feels' about it, just seemed ridiculous to me. Meh. I didn't finish the book.

missmarcy Dec 06, 2011


Nov 28, 2011

This book was a haunting beautiful read. A great story about an independent girl falling through life. As she leaps from man to man she begins to slowly understanding who she wants to be. The storyline flows like a river and was a very satisfying read.

Nov 11, 2011

I believe the river was the main character, all others, just players in this story. Beautifully written tale. Campbell has a wonderful gift of using words to paint a picture. I enjoyed this immensely.

gracindaisy Nov 02, 2011

A young girl survives alone in the countryside, making a life for herself living on a river Michigan. The author creates a marvelous sense of place and carves out a memorable character.

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