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In the Heart of the Canyon

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  1,476 Ratings  ·  335 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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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.
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
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.
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Cheesy/ unoriginal. No one asked for that twist
William Graney
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It held my interest from the beginning to the end with no lulls.
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They say challenging circumstances either MAKE you or BREAK you! In this book, you see how a tough experience first BREAKS you, and then MAKES you. At first I was so worried about how I was going to keep up with of all the characters on this river-rafting trip and who was who. Now that I am done, I feel like I need a sequel to figure out how they are all doing!!
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
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-read
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
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,
Dena Pardi
Aug 19, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jane C.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
For thirteen long days, three river rafting guides, JT, Abo and Dixie, navigate twelve passengers through the rapids of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. After a couple days of early mornings and long days the excitement of the trip wares off, it becomes more of chore, tempers flare and they begin second guessing each others decisions. One of the passengers named Amy is 17 and keeps a diary and it is included here and there throughout the book. Amy calls herself "Fat Girl" and is taking th ...more
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild a couple of summers ago, I am looking for more wilderness literature authored by women writers. (It is a challenge.) This was a good one, written by a lawyer turned novelist.

Through her characters, Elizabeth Hyde captures the river’s many lessons about life’s constant fluidity, confronting fears and building confidence by rising to face new challenges, the way changing landscapes can cause changes in perspective, the impact of people’s shifting perspectives o
May 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book featured a number of terrific characters, and it had some smart things to say about love, relationships, family, and people, people, people. It was lovely to get a number of different perspectives of the same events, and the book served as a great reminder that no one person lives an event the same way. A little too happytidy a wrap-up, and occasionally featuring a cheeseball line that no self respecting person would ever say like "I just wanted to say thank you, for letting me be in l ...more
Julie Ekkers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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