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In the Heart of the Canyon

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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,142 ratings  ·  286 reviews
Over the course of thirteen long days, twelve assorted passengers, three rafting guides and one stray dog will navigate the rapids of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon together. From their early-morning rise on the shore of the river to the adrenaline rush of paddling through Lava Falls, they will soon come to know each other more intimately than they could have ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 13th 2010 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,076)
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Julia
I read this in one day--almost in one sitting--so yeah, I'm giving it five stars.

Would I love it as much if I didn't grown up in Arizona and later take a week-long rafting trip down the Grand Canyon? Maybe not. But anyone can appreciate this novel's mix of soapy page-turning and contemplative literary qualities. Not many books can truly capture what it's like to have a transformative experience in the great outdoors (particularly in one of the most beautiful places in the world), and Hyde does a
...more
Candace
I loved this book! The Grand Canyon and the Colorado River have fascinated me for a long time, and I have been given an opportunity to go on a raft trip there this summer. So the book was of special interest to me. The author, Elisabeth Hyde, writes with compelling simplicity, and her characters cover a wide range of personalities and life-styles, which she describes with insight. The book is definitely an adventure tale with a dash of inspiration about how people overcome their fears and conque ...more
Brian
This book was surely going to be a five star book when it was reading it, but upon finishing it, I took it down a notch or two. The book started out with a LOT of characters, so many in fact it needed a character guide, which came in handy as I read through it. The premise is that a group of mostly strangers is taking a trip through the Grand Canyons on the rapids. They range from an elderly couple, to a single 27 year old, to a heavy girl and her mom, along with some river guides. Some of the c ...more
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Linda says:

For those of us who can't afford a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon, or perhaps might have more qualms than a desire to do so, along comes "In the Heart of the Canyon" by Elisabeth Hyde. For 12 passengers and their 3 guides this rafting trip will become 13 days that they will never forget.
Elisabeth Hyde's characters are ones you know. They're not all strapping 20 somethings out on a lark, but rather regular folks who, for their own personal reasons, have decided to take this time t
...more
Alex
I was drawn to this book because I am yearning for an outdoor adventure, but lack the travel budget. What could be better than an armchair adventure down the Colorado River? Elisabeth Hyde creates an assortment of characters, then has them run the river, with a few surprises along the way. The author does a pretty good job of putting you there, with selective detail. Still I was left wanting more. Even small explanations would have helped. For instance, how is it they're grilling steaks and drin ...more
Chelsea
The following statements from the book emphasize what the story meant to me:

"The fact that there was no turning back, that they could not go forward--that they were committed to the [river] run, like it or not--suddenly seemed profound...."

"'You can do it', said Don, 'because you have to do it.'"

A very powerful story, with adult themes, that I highly recommend especially if you enjoy stories set in the Grand Canyon, the American West, river runs, or outdoor adventures. I thoroughly enjoyed the s
...more
Dena Pardi
This was a fast paced quick read. I really enjoyed the unique scenery (opposed to the books I typically read) and liked that there wasn't a lot of over drawn out descriptions of the magnificent Grand Canyon. I liked the adventure feel of the book and the variety of characters that were along for the ride. I was eager to go down river and learn more about each person and their story (including the guides) as to what brought them there and the ways they all managed to find some peace or resolution ...more
Rachael
At first I thought this story was going to be kind of cheesy, and it was a bit, but in the end I really enjoyed it. More than the story itself I really enjoyed the descriptions of the Canyon. They were really amazing. Maybe I should keep a copy of this one to reread when the Seattle gloom starts to get me down, and I need a dose of desert sun.
Amandajane
Not amazing literature by any means, but a easy, fun read. Though this particular trip down the Colorado had some (a lot) of mishaps, it's still a trip on my bucket list! The character study was interesting, and I definitely know people that fit most of these roles.
Bob
As others have written, this is the account of a rafting trip down the Colorado RIver through the Grand Canyon in summer. Thousands of people have taken such trips over the last 50 years or so.

In some ways it's the saga of a great trip as a metaphor of a trip though life, soft of like the Odyssey. Only it is not so obviously focused on just one person.

There are three guides. In charge is JT, who is about 50 and has done this 124 times before. The second is named Abo, a man around 30 or so, and t
...more
Jane C.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Pessolano
Twelve people, three guides, and three rafts start an adventure on the Colorado River. The trip takes thirteen days and goes from the Glen Canyon Dam to Diamond Creek Takeout. The 220 mile trip holds both beauty and danger. The danger takes the form of rapids and the class 10 (highest degree of difficulty) Lava Falls, which culminates the trip.

It is up to trip leader, JT Mahoney, to see to the safety and well being of his group. JT is on his 125th trip but he has never been faced with a group li
...more
Ian Mapp
All books should start with a map. It helps the mind contextualise the journey. I am not so sure about books that start with a list of characters - maybe that suggests that they have too many or the writing is not good enough for you to keep track of them. There are certainly some characters that add nothing to this story.

The premise of this book is excellent. Take a group of stangers who are embarking on a kayaking holiday through colardo. Narrate the book from the viewpoint of the experienced,
...more
Jodi
I can honestly say that after reading this book I have no desire whatsoever to take a rafting trip. However, I really enjoyed the book. This is JT's 125 trip as a guide. He's 52 and loves his job. But this trip is going to be a challenge in every possible way. First, they find a dog. Dogs aren't allowed and this one shouldn't there. But there are two young teen boys and they keep the dog. And older couple in their mid-70s have made this trip often but Lloyd has Alzheimers and it's advancing. Rut ...more
Jan
This novel, about a group of strangers on a white water rafting trip, is not full of heart-pounding action, so don't read it expecting to be thrilled. Instead, it is a probing character study, and not one that ends with any real answers or deep insights. In a way, it's kind of like one of those TV shows that you watch because you really just want to see what happens next in the characters' lives - you don't really care what it is that happens, you just want to see how they react to it. Like an e ...more
E. Anderson
It's nearly impossible for me to summarize this book. For a few days, this was my own personal Colorado River adventure. The characters felt like my friends, and as each day passed in the book and the strangers felt closer to eachother, I felt closer to them. These people from all different walks of life - a Harvard professor, a mother and her overweight daughter, a family from Salt Lake City, an elderly couple - may have signed up for this two-week ride, but the relationships that develop and f ...more
Jen
Most outdoor enthusiasts believe that an adventure in nature will change you for the better, and that's essentially the premise of this book, which sends over a dozen folks down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon on a rafting trip. There's the single mom with her obese teenage daughter; the elderly couple who's done these trips for years - but now he's in the early stages of Alzheimer's; the know-it-all historian and the submissive wife; the Harvard professor who was just dumped by her ...more
Dolores
"In the Heart of the Canyon" has everything....an exciting raft trip on the Colorado River, descriptions of the fabulous scenery, and a group of the most interesting travelers you can imagine. They struggle with the hardships and the personality clashes as the days go by, and JT, the trip leader who has made the river run 124 times, has his hand full on this run.I enjoyed every page and the satisfying ending very much.
Julie Ekkers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julene Bair
Like one of the twelve disparate people who signed up for this river trip through the canyon, I could tell before Hyde had even taken me over the first rapid that I was in the hands of a master storyteller. Heart of the Canyon is an apt title, resonating evocatively with the real aim of this novel, to sink us deep into the hearts of the rafters and their guides. I was amazed by Hyde’s ability to interweave the concerns and secret insecurities, dreams, and fears of so many different characters wi ...more
Pamela Beason
I felt like I was along on the raft trip down the Grand Canyon. This is a very interesting story told from several points of view, including the most experienced river guide and the youngest most clueless tourist. The descriptions of the canyon and the river were fascinating to this outdoor enthusiast reader. I'm going to go find more books by Elisabeth Hyde.
Lorraine
Nothing too extreme in this book: a group of people doing an adventure white water raft through the Grand Canyon with guides. The reader gets to know all the characters through a shifting omniscient POV. Of course they've all got their baggage and issues and through the ride things "work out" so to speak and they "find themselves". I kept expecting huge disaster of the bare bones, survival sort, but instead got lots of little adventures. Nothing too profound, nothing too great, but a reasonable ...more
Randi Reisfeld
I'd meant to read this one for a while: what a wonderful reward when I finally did. It's the story of a diverse group who take a 200 mile rafting trip down the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon. Characters range from mid-70s to pre-teens; from experienced rafthers to non-swimmers; from a family to a single mom with an angry obese daughter; a spiritually included college prof, and a self-professed know-it-all and his meek-as-a-mouse spouse. It is also the story of the guides who lead the wa ...more
Becky
When I picked this up I thought it was a non-fiction account, so I was bit surprised to find that it is fictional when I started reading. I could barely put it down; short chapters and plenty of character development kept the plot moving forward quickly for me and I loved the setting of a raft trip on the Colorado River.

Shelley
I loved this book! I loved all the different characters, learning their personalities and backgrounds and then watching them grow as the trip continued. I also really liked the idea of this book, and that it only followed the characters for a total of ten days down the river on a white water rafting trip. It also really got me interested in taking my own rafting trip. The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars was because the ending wasn't my thing. The book kind of just stopped and I don't ...more
Linda
IN THE HEART OF THE CANYON is a book about how hard river guides work. Among other things. The river guides in this book are working on the Colorado River down the Grand Canyon in a white rapids rafting tour. The guides must take care of the boats and the gear; cook and serve food; keep track of the folks who have paid to have a good time and in some cases be psychologists. This multi-layered account has enjoyable and sympathetic characters to whom we can all relate. My tendency was to choose si ...more
Rusty Vaughan
I don't think I can add much to the previous reviews. I have done the trip through the canyon. This was an interesting parallel as I relived my trip. While we did not have the drama it was easy to connect many personality similarities. It is a good simple read and character study. I recommend.
B.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book -- would it be an adventure story, or a character study. It turned out to be a little of both, although I think the character story is more pronounced than the adventure tale. The reason that I didn't rate this higher is that I was disappointed by the Amy storyline; I thought it was farfetched and didn't feel right; that took something away from my enjoyment of the book.
The three guides were the most real characters for me, although the travelers were
...more
Connie
I picked up this book as I anticipate my own trip to the Grand Canyon this year. By page five, I was worried. Scorpions, rattlesnakes, unremitting heat, infected wounds, obnoxious fellow campers, isolation and no creature comforts other than food, which is apparently a big deal on these raft excursions. However, as a story, it was entertaining, although not very believable. And I tell myself that my trip to the Grand Canyon will be better. I most related to the wife and mother of two boys (being ...more
Ali
This book had a unique plot that kept you guessing. I enjoyed this easy going book. Instead of focusing on the generic love or action story, it took on the ties and struggles one encounters when rafting with strangers for two weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I did not see the ending coming at all. I recommend it to anyone who loves adventure, this book inspired me to one day white water raft for two weeks.
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