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Q Road

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  513 ratings  ·  79 reviews

Greenland Township, Michigan: On the same acres where farmers once displaced Potawatomi Indians, suburban developers now supplant farmers and prefab homes spring up in last year's cornfields. All along Q Road -- or "Queer Road," as the locals call it -- the old, rural life collides weirdly with the new.

With a cast of lovingly rendered eccentrics and a powerful sense of p

Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 19th 2003 by Scribner Book Company (first published August 19th 2002)
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3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  513 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Cathrine ☯️
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: group-challenge
Once Upon a River is on my favorites shelf and a prequel to Q Road, though written after the fact. Lead protagonist Margo only appears here in flashbacks as this one is about daughter Rachel after Margo has disappeared. Except for those flashbacks, the entire story takes place on one particular day and is told from multiple perspectives by residents in Greenland Township, Michigan. Many of whom define quirky and say or do unexpected things that surprise, sometimes shock you. Take Nicole for
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

I recently found myself with the opportunity to interview revered author Bonnie Jo Campbell for the CCLaP Podcast; and so before doing so, I thought it would be beneficial to read her two most popular books besides the one I've already read (2011's Once Upon a River, that is, considered by many to be a fro
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bonnie Jo Campbell can flat-out write. Her descriptions of the characters, the landscape, and life in rural Michigan are stunning.
Nancy Brady
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it
A literary novel about quirky neighbors in Greenland Township, Michigan living on Q Road, known to the locals as Queer Road. The Centennial Farm of George Harland (and his ancestors) is the focus of the story (reminded me of my aunt's and uncle's farm in Flushing, Michigan...they, too, owned a Centennial Farm, sign and all).

Rachel loves the land and loves to cuss. In fact, she swore throughout whether it was warranted or not. George loves Rachel. The rest of the characters move in and out of th
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved the three Bonnie Jo Campbell books I read before this one -- two of short stories and one novel. She's one of my favorite authors still writing and I have all her books and her chapbook of poetry on my shelf. So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw that I would be in Portland, ME when she would be doing a reading at Longfellow's, Portland's "fiercely independent" bookstore. And she was as amazing in person as her books (and website) lead one to think she would be. Before the read ...more
Oct 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sequel to Once Upon A River that was written first. Another great story about quirky characters surviving outside established norms. In this book they are connected to the farm land and rather than the river. The suburbs are encroaching and a way of live is disappearing...Sound familiar? The main character didn't grab me like Margo, and I was sad that Margo didn't appear in the book, but still a great read. Wonder if she will appear in a future book?
Jake Engels
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The sense of history in this book was really great. The juxtaposition of the Potawatomi, farmers, and suburbanites was interesting and present throughout the book.
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: siblings, friends, especially Michiganders and other midwesterners
Recommended to Betsy by: Heather
To make things a bit confusing: Bonnie Jo Campbell wrote this novel BEFORE her latest novel "Once Upon A River" (which I really liked. Both share some of the same characters. BUT the latest novel "Ounce Upon a River" is a prequel to this novel "Q Road." To further confuse things, I happened to read these books out of the sequence (in which they were written).

That said, one of the main characters in this novel (Q Road)is the daughter of the main character in the other novel (Once Upon a River) w
Oct 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
A quiet book about a group of neighbors in rural Michigan. Rachel is the closest to being our protagonist, and she is quite a character with her constant swearing, gardening, and rifle-carrying attitude and she's only 17. Her mother killed a man and disappeared, leaving Rachel on her own at 15 when George, the main landowner in the area, takes an interest in her. Each chapter could focus on any one of this town (even one chapter about Grey Cat), and we get to know their individual shameful desir ...more
Feb 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost put this book down, as it started very slow for me. But I was glad I didn't, really enjoyed it as I got further into the story. This book tells of the lives of people in a small rural area in Michigan, and what happens over the course of one day, October 9, 1999. The action is centered around folks who live along one rural road, mostly farmers, and fills in background for each of them as the day progresses. What I found most engaging was the story of Rachel, a rough and tough young girl ...more
Dec 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
After American Salvage, Q Road is probably Bonnie Jo Campbell's strongest book. I recently interviewed this past summer for Knee-Magazine, so I had the chance to read her entire catalog.

Q Road is a novel told from multiple view points, with each chapter devoted to a single character. As the story moves along, the characters lives begin to intermingle. It is at once about a small Michigan township and of course, like any great story, it is also about the world. While the novel is heavy on charac
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
WOW! I haven't read anything like this in a long time. Q Road, nicknamed Queer Road, is populated by the most peculiar characters ever assembled in a novel. Well, maybe not EVER, but it is certainly up there near the top. While the story takes place on one day, the back stories propel the reader forward. I sometimes can't believe how many fine writers are out there without a huge audience. This book could easily be included in the canon of modern American fiction.
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I think this is actually my favorite out of Campbell's writing yet. Maybe I'm just more of a land person than a river person, but there is something in this book that really tugs at me inside. The writing is amazing as well. Each sentence is warm and perfect. I like the way this one advances through different characters at once, exploring the main storyline while exploring each character and their interrelation to each other. I would recommend this one to anyone who can read.
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I just love it when the heros and heroines in a book are ugly and beautiful at the same time. I love it when it's about people who make mistakes and suffer them or even suffer other people's mistakes, but find some hope and love even if it's of an unusual sort or kind of twisted. And I love it when I sympathize with a character who I'd probably hate in real life. And I like beautiful writing. I think I'm hooked on Bonnie Jo Campbell.
Nov 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Only picked this up because I needed a “Q” for an A-Z reading challenge I’m doing this year. It’s set in Michigan, so I connected with that part. I really liked it, then there was a chapter where horrible things were happening and I almost put it down I was so upset, but I’m glad I pushed on because by the end I liked it again.
Patti K
Jan 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
This 2002 novel is actually the sequel to her recent one, Once Upon A River. Fascinating look
at these off-beat characters on a small family farm near the Kalamazoo River. Very absorbing
story with an inspiring ending. I recommend her books highly.
Paul Thomas
Jan 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: character-dev
Disappointing. I enjoyed American Salvage a great deal. But, in Q Road, the characters are not well developed, and the working class mid western plight misses the boat. The book seemed to jump from character to character, without a coherent story. Maybe this was originally a bunch of short stories that Bonnie tried to string together. And she did some stupid, quaint things like creating a character named Gray Cat. Wow, insightful.

Additionally, you could not feel the character's plight as much as
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a little treasure this book is. And I am so fortunate to have met the author, who is brilliant and adventurous, and knows how to tell a good story!
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Engaging tale of a day (October 9, 1999) in the life of a community of friends and neighbors, all quirky in their own way, in the small (formerly) farming town of Greenland, Michigan. The story centers around George Harland, a quietly compassionate and hard-working fiftyish farmer who wants nothing more of life than the hardscrabble pleasure he gets from his land and his somewhat undefinable, obsessive attachment to his unusual, profane, reclusive young wife Rachel Crane, a young woman, a girl r ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Communication is key and our inner lives are rich, sometimes much richer than even our closest companions can ever know. This desire to know and be known is at the heart of Bonnie Jo Campbell's multiple character sprawl of a novel Q Road. Q Road, or as it more commonly called by the locals in this Michigan set novel, Queer Road (due to all the peculiar characters that live there), is the gathering point of all involved on the fateful day of October 9, 1999 that encompasses the narrative. Nominal ...more
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Although a bookworm, I'm an embarrassingly slow reader, partly because finding down time is tricky and partly because I constantly flip back and forth through the pages to check details, recall character quirks, etc. This was the drill for the first half of Q Road, despite my enjoyment of the read and of Campbell's wordsmithing. The second half, however, I devoured in one sitting, after waking at O-dark-thirty with worries I badly needed to escape. I got much more than distraction. Campbell remi ...more
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
An absolute must if you've read, "Once Upon A River." Main character, Margo Crane is pregnant at the end of "Once Upon a River", and 'Q Road' picks up with Rachel Crane, her daughter as a teenager living amongst the river and farmlands of Greenland Township, near Kalamazoo. You're introduced to the neighbors and what a cast of characters they are! The land holds secrets of the days when the Pottawatomie farmed these parts and gives a purpose to Rachel, as land is everything to her. Rachel and he ...more
Jun 28, 2012 rated it liked it
A sequel to "Once Upon A River," although this book was actually written first. I noticed a couple of small inconsistencies between the two stories, probably because I read this one right on the heels of the other, but those were only a small distraction.

"Q Road" takes place over the course of a single day, featuring a handful of rural Michigan neighbors. Each character's personal history and secrets interwine with the others, adding layer upon layer to the story, and fleshing out each individua
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A neighborhood peopled with encentrics.....slow to change, It usually takes a tornado, or a disgraced school teacher, or other disaster......and change is on its way again....Get a comfortable seat and a cool drink, this one is a page turner.

They are all flawed...but are all special.
Page 206. "he decided that the only time a man really knew God was when he knew God was different than folks said he was. That was when he figured it out for himself, and all the better if it disagreed with what was
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
The plot was not believable in the slightest, but the book was a great read. The jacket described the characters as "eccentric" but that's not the right word. Some were ornery, some desperate, some hateful, but I wanted to know what would happen to all of them. What was believable was the setting, both the inhabited and uninhabited parts of the countryside.

One random thing that stuck out to me was the lack of technology. The story is set in the late '90s and it is pretty remarkable to note the
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have never forgotten this book. I need to read it again (and want to!) because even though I haven't forgotten the essence of this book (haunting, Michigan rural themes, quirky characters) I have forgotten the details...needed for a review!

Bonnie Jo Campbell (Michigan!) is a great writer. I was privileged to see her leading a panel of authors talking about writing at the Kerrytown Concert House last fall at the book discussion last year at the Kerrytown Book Festival.

Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I unwittingly stumbled on a theme of rural farmland in the last year. (Driftless, Snow Child, Once Upon a River, Mudville, off the top of my head.) This is the first book to Campbell's book Once Upon a River (though it takes place later...too confusing to explain but obvious once you start reading.) It centers on one day and neighbors along Q road. I found it fascinating. I loved all of the daydreaming characters -- so many daydreams that we don't really wish to happen, sometimes a few that we d ...more
Melanie Ullrich
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was shocked when I started reading this to find out that my favorite book, Once Upon a River, was the prequel to this book. I was happy to find out what happened to Margo and her daughter, although the outcome is typical Bonnie Jo Campbell bitter-sweet. I love how Campbell can interweave gardening and the simple farm life into a a tragic, yet touching glimpse into a small communities everyday interactions.
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Somewhat awkward in the structure and writing compared to Once Upon A River, I was none-the-less happy to read this book so I that could revisit Margo's world and see what became of her child, the land-loving gardener Rachael. Farmer George Harland was also a great character, as was David. Some of the others I could of skipped (definitely could've skipped the alien-obsessed lady and the window salesman and his wife, but April May Rathburn was interesting).
Liz Amundson
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
terrific first novel from Bonnie Jo Campbell. Rural life of neighbors- some tension/drama, but unlike her short stories (which are searing and difficult and so deeply TRUE), this one has a lighter touch- as did her more recent novel Once Upon a River. Depth of inner lives is her strong-suit- the unseen insides of people.
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Bonnie Jo Campbell is the author of the National Book Award finalist American Salvage, Women & Other Animals, and the novels Q Road and Once Upon a River. She is the winner of a Pushcart Prize, the AWP Award for Short Fiction, and Southern Review’s 2008 Eudora Welty Prize for “The Inventor, 1972,” which is included in American Salvage. Her work has appeared in Southern Review, Kenyon Review, a ...more
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