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In the Heart of the Canyon

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,539 Ratings  ·  351 Reviews
The temperature is over 100. The rapids are some of the largest in North America. Water levels are rising. And JT Maroney, veteran river guide, is leading his 125th trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. For the next two weeks, his 13 passengers - strangers, mostly - will paddle, row, swim, ride the rapids, eat gourmet meals, sleep under the stars, and learn a l ...more
Paperback, 316 pages
Published July 3rd 2009 by Pan Publishing (first published January 1st 2009)
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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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Robyn S. Martin
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tattered Cover Book Store
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
Kathy Stauffer
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
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
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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.
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Janet Mahlum
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Annette Morris
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I've been on actual, real white water river trip through the Grand Canyon with Elisabeth Hyde's wonderful adventure story In the Heart of the Canyon. I went with 13 tourists and 3 guides in 3 boats and gradually got to know all of them and their foibles as the journey unfolded. It's written in a nice easy style that gets under the skin of every individual on the trip and their relationships with each other. The descriptions of the river and the rafting are pretty amazing too. As I sa ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the people-watching-101 crowd. This novel is wonderful! Readers are given an in-depth look at the crew and guides on a two week long (3 boat) trip down the Grand. I could almost feel like I was experiencing the story. The relationships and personalities of all the characters feel so real, and all the experiences of the characters feel so genuine. I really was pulled into the story and I kept turning the pages one after another until, all of sudden, there were no more pages to turn. The story ...more
Susan Kietzman
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was given a copy of Elisabeth Hyde's In the Heart of the Canyon as a Christmas gift by my mother. She, my brothers, and I took a short rafting trip down the Colorado River in celebration of her 80th birthday - and she thought I would enjoy the story. And she was right! Hyde's words took me back to my experience of life on the river, of all its power and beauty, of the wonder it bestows on those lucky enough to ride it in a raft. However, much can happen on the Colorado River; its idyllic setti ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't think of a scenario more horrifying to me than white-water rafing in the 115-degree heat for two weeks with a bunch of strangers. Never ever ever would I want to do this. But apparently I enjoy reading about it because I loved this book SO MUCH. Hyde is able to put the reader in the same emotional place as the characters on this rafting trip as they evolve from "oh my god I hate all these people I can't do this for two weeks" to "I love you all and I don't want to leave!" by the end. A f ...more
Julie Dionne
It brought back good memories of a rafting trip I made in my late teen years and reminded me of how much of the world I want to see. There were good descriptions of the scenery and the adventure of navigating through rapids. I found it just OK though as the story is a bit slow and there were too many characters, therefore their depth was not really there, and some characters were like unnecessary accessories. It would have been nice to know how the trip changed each character.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this at about the same whirling speed as the white-water rapids it describes. It was a fun summer read set in the Grand Canyon, with a nice mix of characters. I had lots of flashbacks to my one exciting rafting experience in New Hampshire.
Kelly McCloskey-Romero
This one kind of snuck up on me. I’ve never read anything quite like it. The context of a rafting trip along the Grand Canyon was so fascinating, and the characters were well drawn. I was really into the pace of the book and read it in about a day. Can’t wait to hike down there myself.
retronerd  Steinkuehler
If you ever go to the Grand Canyon this is the book for you. Even if you don’t it is beautifully written about relationships and interactions among strangers who bond during a trip. Excellent!!!!
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some terrific moments, but the big twist was so telegraphed that it was obvious that it was coming by about 40 pages in.
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In addition to GO ASK FANNIE, Elisabeth Hyde is the author of 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 Read by The Richard and Judy Show (Britain’s Oprah, at the time). Trained as a law ...more
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