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The River (River #1)

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  401 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
"You were made for The River . . ."

Gabriel Clarke is mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. The rushing waters beckon him to experience freedom and adventure.

But something holds him back--the memory of the terrible event he witnessed on The River when he was just five years old--so
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 17th 2012 by Thomas Nelson (first published October 20th 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 807)
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Julie G
Sep 25, 2012 Julie G rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
For a first novel, this one is well done; to a point. Michael Neale's format is that of a biography, and he certainly convinced me. In fact, I had to (repeatedly) refer back to the tagline on the cover: The River: A Novel.

The story begins with our narrator stuck, for 3 hours, at the Denver airport. He's hoping to kill that time with a book and his iPod in the nearly-empty boarding area. Instead, a character "out of a Discovery Channel documentary" sits down next to him.

And, in sharing his story,
Lindsay Chung
Sep 25, 2012 Lindsay Chung rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
First off, I could not putThe River down. I loved it! Gabriel Clarke is such an endearing main character and I feel like we all struggle with the same feelings of fear, resentment and anxiety that Gabriel struggles with, even if not to the same degree.

I do want to say, however, that if you decide to read this book, get the paperback! While the story would be just as good in any format, an e-reader cannot give you the same feeling in your hands that the paperback does. This particular book is bou
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
Every once in awhile you come across a book that really makes a difference in your life. One that makes an impact; one that makes a difference in how you move forward in your life. Such is the case in the inspirational fictional novel from Michael Neale, The River. I first saw an ad for this book and it was highly recommended by some of my favorite authors, one being Andy Andrews, who I have most of his books in my personal library. This one will definitely be joining them.

In the book, The River
Marian Baay
Dec 18, 2012 Marian Baay rated it it was amazing
In "The River" Gabriel Clarke is telling us his life story. It's pretty amazing to read this story and recognize things of his life in my own life. It's a timeless story of God's love and care for us and growing in faith.
You can read this story like a great adventure book, or you can read this story as a spiritual read and imagine The River is God.
Michael Neale is writing an amazing story that - I believe - will change lives.

Gabriel Clarke is a 5 year old boy when his father - John Clarke - gave
Feb 07, 2014 Susan rated it did not like it
I read this book as part of the Book Club that I am in. Having said that, it is not a book I would have read otherwise. The story is one dimensional and the writing is elementary to say the least. I am not sure who the target market was for this book originally. I would guess Fifth Grade…? This book falls under Christian worship, yet the characters in the story are not very religious. They worship a river. There is even a letter written by the main characters' father that might be construed as a ...more
Jordan Mierek
Oct 07, 2012 Jordan Mierek rated it liked it
I received a copy of THE RIVER by Michael Neal from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. I was excited to start reading. Based on the reviews and back cover, I expected a book that would change my life, filled with mystery and courage. By the time I finished, I had mixed feelings. Unlike the reviews, this book didn’t change my life. Yes, it did have powerful messages, but I didn’t look at the world through new eyes.

Gabriel Clarke is raised by his father beside the River. When Gabe is five, his father
Sep 13, 2012 Arlene rated it liked it
This book feels good in the hand. It has the faded leather look of an ancient book of wisdom. The poetic opening pages draw the reader in to the allure of The River: "I find myself drawn to The River. With its beauty and power, The River calls to me. The River can be known but not fully. Therein lies the mystery." The opening sets the tone for a story of deep spirit truths.

Some of the action takes place on the rapids of the Colorado River. I spent three summers working for Wilderness Tours White
Oct 25, 2012 Sylvia rated it liked it
The River by Michael Neale is the story of a young man who finds healing, forgiveness, and purpose.

Gabriel Clarke is mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. The rushing waters beckon him to experience freedom and adventure. The memory of the terrible event he witnessed on The River holds him back. When he returns to The River after years away, his heart knows he is finally home. His destiny is within reac
Feb 24, 2013 Stephanie rated it did not like it
I am uncomfortable writing negative reviews, because authors are real people who have generally poured their hearts and souls into their work. However, I also see value in honest dialogue.

That said, I am amazed by the reports of people being deeply impacted by this book. I am very glad to hear that, but I personally found this novel to be one of the worst books I have read in a long time. The writing was elementary, the plot very predictable, the character development shallow, and the relationa
Mar 19, 2013 Aryn rated it liked it
I didn't realize until after I requested the book that this is a novel that is considered religious fiction; the summary gave me no such clue. I guess I wasn't thrilled when I read that, because while religions all fascinate me, "Religious Fiction" tends to mean a books that "Shove Christianity Down Your Throat." Luckily, this book really didn't give off that vibe. It's comparable to how I love Flyleaf - yes, they're technically Christian Metal, but they're not overtly so, and I love them anyway ...more
Nov 23, 2012 Becky rated it liked it
This is the story of Gabriel, whose life--at the age of five--is dramatically changed by the death of his father. The little boy's life is completely altered when he is uprooted from his home by a beautiful river in the mountains of Colorado, to the flat, hot plains of Kansas. The rest of Gabriel's childhood, followed by his teen years, are extremely difficult because of the significant losses and changes in his life.

It is especially important that the sections "from an entry in a journal" and "
George Lichman
Aug 30, 2012 George Lichman rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
The River is not a river. In this story perhaps it is, but one man's River is another man's Mountain, or Ocean, Flying, Biking, or Running. It is what makes a person who he is, a one word, oversimplified but equally complicated analogy that defines a life. In The River, the debut novel by Michael Neale, it is a river in a Colorado canyon that defines not just one man, but three generations of men.
The story begins with a hike in the woods. Father John Clarke and his five year old son Gabriel t
Henk-Jan van der Klis
Sep 01, 2012 Henk-Jan van der Klis rated it really liked it
Gabriel Clarke looses his father when he was just five years old, when daddy tries to save a rafter’s life in a Colorado river. With his mother he relocates to Kansas, where she becomes a maid to earn money and Gabriel grows up. Gabriel never feels really at home and misses his father. He’s afraid of water. A new teacher, born Indian likes him and gives him a painting from The River for his birthday. When Gabriel gets the chance to join friends to a rafting camping / hiking weekend he first hesi ...more
Becky Burford
Feb 03, 2013 Becky Burford rated it really liked it
As with "Crossroads", I bought this book as I was leaving town for a business trip. I was running early to make a flight in Tyler which is not common for me so at the last minute as I at the Wal-Mart intersection (Hwy 64) , I felt like I should stop to purchase a novel for this trip.

In a haste, I actually got two novels just in case one did not keep my interest on the short flight to Houston.

After the purchases, I felt some remose on the money spent on buying two novels. As I traveled the few m
Apr 16, 2014 Soccer26 rated it it was amazing
The River is pro ally the best book I have read so far it has love, anger, and mystery all in 303 pages a kid named Gabriel is a young boy who starts of by a river with his favorite thing marbles he meets some kids and gets stuck in a tree above WATER he is scared to jump well u might want to hear the first part of his life gabe and his father we out walking beside a river some boats came and not far from a WATERFALL so gabes dad went to help gabes dad won and the boats and people were safe I ca ...more
Dec 01, 2015 Elaine rated it really liked it
A colleague returned from the NACCAP conference raving about this book and handed me her copy. I found it a nice, smooth read with only one big surprise. I expected more highs and lows from a book "about" whitewater rafting. The language and situations are squeaky clean.

Michael Neale clearly has a message to deliver, but he does it in such a subtle way that I constantly flipped the book over to check the publishing house name on the back cover: yup, it is Thomas Nelson, a Christian book publishe
Apr 10, 2016 Emmy rated it did not like it
It's entirely possible that this book was written for children and not for adults. If that's the case, it might merit two stars. However, if it is written for adults. Wow. An extremely shallow and childlike story that was so predictable it was painful. "The River" was referred to so many times I almost let myself hope that there might be an underlying meaning of some kind, but alas, no such meaning could be found in "The River". Or anywhere else in this book.

Nice book cover, though. I'm a sucke
Wendy Hines
Dec 21, 2012 Wendy Hines rated it it was amazing
When Gabriel was a young boy, a horrific experience happened at The River. He watched his father drown trying to save another. He and his mother move, but Gabriel can't get The River out of his head. He's angry, resentful and sad. He turns within himself, only speaking with a friend and his mom and teachers.

As he grows up, the experience never leaves his head. So when his friend implores him to go to The River for camping, Gabriel finally relents. There, he finds pleasure and meets someone new.
Gail Welborn
Aug 22, 2012 Gail Welborn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
***Don't miss the music and the message of this amazing author/musician!***

Michael Neale, Dove-nominated artist, songwriter, and master storyteller’s September 4th release, “The River,” combines his artistry of writing, music and performance to produce what he calls an “experience.” This extraordinary book is only one piece of that experience.

Neale creates multi-layered characters he then combines with a multifaceted plot that takes place in Kansas, the Colorado Rockies and “The River.” Readers
Victor Gentile
Sep 06, 2012 Victor Gentile rated it it was amazing
Michael Neale in his new book, “The River” published by Thomas Nelson takes us to into the life of Katherine Osborne in 1905.

From the back cover: “You were made for The River . . .”

Gabriel Clarke is mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. The rushing waters beckon him to experience freedom and adventure.

But something holds him back—the memory of the terrible event he witnessed on The River when he was jus
Oct 04, 2012 Marianne rated it it was amazing
The River. This story grabbed my heart from the first page on, and as unlikely as it may seem, I finished it in one day!
The narrative flowed as fast as the river, and as deep as a river can sometimes be.
Although it was a fast paced and captivating novel, it is not a suspense novel, nor is it a romance as such. I felt throughout the story that I was right there, watching with five year old Gabriel as his father John left him to go down the bank to help a kayaker in distress. I was with him as h
Tuğçe Sevin
Sep 20, 2012 Tuğçe Sevin rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
The Dove-award winning songwriter Michael Neale’s debut novel, The River, is getting its place on the shelves today, September, 18th.

The River is an inspirational story about loss and redemption. With the fast pace, you should get ready to be drawn in quickly and to have a hard time putting it down.

The story takes place in the Colorado Rockies and “The River.” Gabriel Clarke is mysteriously drawn to The River; he witnessed a terrible event, something no child should ever see, on The River when h
Oct 10, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
The common writing advice for today’s authors is to show, not tell. However, many modern books fall into telling you what the point of the story is, or the lesson they wanted you to learn from it. The River was a refreshing change from the norm and trusts the readers to understand this subtle allegory for themselves.

The book design by itself gets five stars. It is made to look like an old, worn book, with rough cut pages. This book would look great on a self or a coffee table and is tempting to
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Sep 03, 2012 Lori L (She Treads Softly) rated it really liked it
The River by Michael Neale recounts the story of Gabriel Clarke, the son of a Colorado whitewater rapids guide, John. When Gabriel's father dies saving the life of a careless young man, Gabriel goes to live with his mother in Kansas and tries to avoid any thoughts of The River. But, after years pass, Gabriel hears the call of The River in his life again and eventually returns to The River in Colorado.

The River is a novel of timeless themes: love, loss, sacrifice, family, beauty, and, ultimately,
Sid Frost
Jan 07, 2013 Sid Frost rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Gabriel Clarke grows up afraid of rivers, but is inexplicably drawn to them. From age five until he is twenty, he lives with his mother in a rented apartment on a farm in Kansas. The owners of the farm, Earl and Vonda Cartwright, treat them like family, and share meals with them. Earl is a father figure for Gabriel.

When Gabriel is twenty years old his life consists of helping around the farm and working in the variety store. Jimmy Bly, Gabriel's friend since grade school, comes home from colleg
Jan 14, 2013 Robyn rated it liked it

Once again I was sucked in by the cover and the PR. I had no idea what The River by Michael Neale was about but was compelled to read it by the tagline: “The River is changing lives...Will you let it change yours?”


In The River we meet young Gabriel Clarke who takes the tragedy of his past with him wherever he goes. Actually, all the wrong in his life defines him and he refuses to accept the love and help of others. Until…(duh duh duh) he meets Tabitha who helps Gabriel break out of his she

Book Him Danno
: I felt two things after reading The River; first I really wanted to go whitewater rafting, and two, this was a nice story. Marketed under the banner of religious/inspirational literature it doesn’t really have that feel; at least not overtly. Instead it is the story of a young man who comes to terms with his father’s death and his own place in the world as he becomes a man himself.

What really worked in this book was the author’s use of the river as a main character. Though he did lean to the
Reuben H.
Jun 01, 2013 Reuben H. rated it liked it
The River by Michael Neale is a novel I acquired a while ago because of a hype. Many employees of the publishing company had read it and very highly recommended it, so I thought I would give it a shot. While it wasn't at all a bad book, it was certainly a disappointment.

The story starts out in the present day, where a fifty-ish man named Gabriel Clarke approaches the story's narrator and tells him that he's on his way back from travelling around the world, running National Geographic's Top Ten M
Katie Mercer
Nov 25, 2012 Katie Mercer rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I am putting this out there right off: I am unsure how I feel about this book. I've been sitting on this review a little, hoping I would figure it out, but no dice, so here's what you get. First off, since I picked this book up I had A Change is Gonna Come pretty much stuck in my head. So you're welcome for that. But really, the like "It's been too hard living, but I'm afraid to die" probably sums up where this book is at pretty well.

So here's the thing, I ditzed out when I first requested the
Holly Weiss
Life with Purpose Often Starts with Pain

Life can be as tumultuous as river rapids with jagged rocks.
Life can be as lonely as a dirty swamp no one visits.
Life can be as loving as a pool that gratefully accepts your fishing lure.
Life can be as gentle as a flowing stream that carries us to healing waters.

The River, debut novel by Michael Neale is all of this. Climb into your canoe and dip your paddle into the spell this book will cast over you.

Adventuresome five-year-old Gabriel Clarke loves the Co
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Gifted writer, performer, and masterful storyteller are all phrases used to describe Michael Neale.

With the highly anticipated September 2012 release of his first novel The River, as well as a second book, Your Great Name, which releases in October 2012, Michael is finding more and more ways to share his gift of storytelling as an author.

As a Dove Award-Winning songwriter, his songs have been reco
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Other Books in the Series

River (2 books)
  • Into the Canyon (River #2)

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