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In the Heart of the Canyon

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,746 ratings  ·  384 reviews
From the author of "The Abortionist's Daughter, " a gripping new novel about a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon that changes the lives of everyone on board.
Meet Peter, twenty-seven, single, and looking for a quick hookup; Evelyn, a fifty-year-old Harvard professor; and Ruth and Lloyd, river veterans in their seventies. There's Mitchell, an overeager history buff with
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published July 14th 2009 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Group dynamics always fascinate me. I remember when I was a teenager, my friends and I would go to the airport just to people watch. It's one of the best places for it! Sometimes it's boring, sometimes it's exciting, but it's always fun learning a bit about human behavior.

Elisabeth Hyde definitely gives us some people watching to do in In the Heart of the Canyon. The setting is a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, and the "people watching" is done through the perspectives of multiple charac
Cait S
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I would be lying if I didn't tell say up front that In The Heart of the Canyon worried me going in. Here we have a book that's not overly long but somehow it is meant to include a massive scope. Two weeks in the Grand Canyon. Fifteen different characters. There's so much that could have gone wrong here that I opened the first chapter already believing I might not even finish the book.

I was wrong.

In every place that the writing could have gotten bogged down in flowering prose, Elisabeth Hyde simp
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Elisabeth Hyde is one of those natural storytellers, who know how to tell a story simply and compellingly, without interrupting and ruining it with too many embellishments and literary tricks. This one is about a group of strangers coming together for a trip down the Colorado river. As you can expect, they gradually come to know each other better, and the dynamics between them are developing and changing all the time. There are surprises (which I really wasn't too surprised about) and dramatic m ...more
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book-- the style of writing and the characters. It made me want to go white water rafting.(maybe not the camping part) After it ended it me wonder what the characters were up to and what happened once the trip was finished. You got to know each of the characters and their reasons for going on the trip.
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Extremely satisfying read. Yes, there were a lot of characters to keep straight, but this adventure story of a whitewater raft trip fleshed out each of the separate characters nicely. Also, the story was so interesting that I was always looking forward to next time that I could carve out a few more minutes so I could read more!
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5* I’ve been fantasizing for years about a raft trip down the Grand Canyon, and it was fun to see the different sections and rapids described along the way in this book. My book club read this book back-to-back with Peter Heller’s The River, so it was impossible not to compare the two books about two very different river adventure trips. I found Heller’s book to be a deeper, more thoughtful read, much darker in tone, and also better at capturing the natural world that was integral to the story ...more
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it

This was such a fun book with good storytelling. 12 adventure seekers from different backgrounds with 3 guides make their way rafting through the Grand Canyon. Something I have always wanted to do, the book offered up all their personalities and their struggles blending to work together to make this next 13 days a trip to remember forever. Some laugh out loud moments as well as information about rafting and the Colorado through the Canyon. Now I want to go more than ever!
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
I love the fictional group dynamics at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. There was plenty of action with this rag-tag team. I enjoyed the dog within the storyline. However Hyde blew it with Amy's character. This would have been a perfect opportunity to be inclusive with plus-sized characters in nature. I feel like every opportunity possible Hyde built upon stereotypes of the "fat" character. Even with the twist at the end, this could have been the bridge between adventure and body positive! ...more
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Chronicles a 13 day rafting trip down the Colorado river for 12 people and 3 guides. I want to do this! I could never be a guide though, especially the Lead Guide. He has to be a glorified babysitter among a hundred other things. The trip affects each character though and that is interesting to see. Learning more about the canyon is always a plus.
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. After chatting with a library patron about “The River” by Peter Heller, I wanted to read an adventure story. This is listed as a readalike for “The River.” It’s good, not the most literary of books, but I don’t think you can read this without wanting to take a rafting trip down the Colorado River by the end.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love a good character study. This is not my usual genre as it is adult contemporary, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the setting and getting to know the characters and seeing them evolve.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly this book, telling a story about sth that is totally foreign to me, held my interest from beginning to end more than any other books.
Fifteen strangers went on a 2-week rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. Can’t say there were any life/ death incidents throughout, but the mere group dynamics made the story more gripping than many so-called thrillers.
Much to the writer’s credit I could easily tell all those characters apart.
Knew absolutely nothing about rafting before. Literally had to
I had absolutely no expectations when I picked up In the Heart of the Canyon. I needed a book set in the Grand Canyon and I thought this was going to be a nonfiction accounting of a river rafting trip.

Readers get to know the characters through the perspective of six rafters who are each sharing their thoughts about each other as well as their rafting experience. The individuals and families on this trip all come from a variety backgrounds and they all have their own reasons for being there.

Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Review title: The River Trip From Hell.

Actually, it was a good premise, and anyone who hasn't been a professional river guide on the Grand will probably like it. For me (former river guide) I took exception to her many mistakes--no trip leader would ever act like JT, who struck me as rather spineless and weak at times; guests (passengers) sleep on cots, not on the sand on mats, guides (all) would be aware of allergies to nuts, and the female guide's behavior-argumentative and witnessed by passe
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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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
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
Apr 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
Kathy Stauffer
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I chose Elisabeth Hyde's IN THE HEART OF THE CANYON at random while perusing the bookshelves. I often do this and am often disappointed with my randomness. This book was not a disappointment. The intermix of personalities while rafting the river is a microcosm in a sense of society. There is one surprise after another and most "surprises" are not due to the river's current or the weather on any particular day.

Hyde includes the thought processes of the head guide (JT) and the other rafters. I fe
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
"In the Heart of the Canyon" has 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. ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Quick summer read. Fast paced, with believable characters, and a must-read if you are a river rafting aficionado.
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
It's really not a good book, I just had to read it because I've just come off the Canyon. I hated "the twist" in the storyline, but I liked remembering the rapids. ...more
Janet Mahlum
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Everyone, EVERYONE, lives happily ever after. Well, we don't know for sure about the happily every after part, but EVERYONE lives!! Taking a raft trip through the Grand Canyon is something I've never, ever wanted to do. This book covers all the reasons I don't ever want to do it - heat, rattlesnakes, heat, rapids, heat, sand, heat... It's one of the last things I want to do. I think I'd jump out of a perfectly good airplane before I would g ...more
Linda Appelbaum
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rarely have I read a book so vividly descriptive while also being enjoyable, fascinating, at times a nail bitter, slyly funny, heart warming and absorbing. This author made the Grand Canyon rafting trip come alive, describing the river and the canyon walls as it they were alive. I feel as though I was on that rafting trip with the 15 other people, 3 of which were guides. The rest were their passengers for almost 2 weeks and despite being a fairly fast read, all of these different people were nic ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book. Not my usual type of read, but I got it as part of a bundle from a charity shop and took it on holiday with me. It kept me engaged throughout.
The story follows the journey of a group of holiday makers -all strangers- who have paid to travel down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon. As their journey develops, the group form cliques and turn on others. Secrets are revealed. Accidents happen. We get to know each character really well.
I enjoyed getting to know th
Jul 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
Maddening not to like this more. With better editing, it could’ve been a great novel. As it is, the point of view is all over the place (whose story is it?), and worst of all is the action is allowed to move to a hospital room, which breaks the spell of the river. The Grand Canyon plays as much a part in the story as the 15 people rafting down it for 2 weeks. The rafts are the crucible in which character is forged. Everyone is changed - some even transformed - by the experience. Yet the story wa ...more
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Elisabeth Hyde is the author, most recently, of GO ASK FANNIE, winner of the 2019 Colorado Book Award in General Fiction. She has also written five other critically acclaimed novels, including IN THE HEART OF THE CANYON, a NY Times Editor’s Choice and a People Magazine Great Read. Her fourth novel, THE ABORTIONIST'S DAUGHTER, became a best seller in Great Britain after being selected as a Summer R ...more

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