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Once Upon a River
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Once Upon a River

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  6,322 Ratings  ·  1,164 Reviews
Bonnie Jo Campbell has created an unforgettable heroine in sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, a beauty whose unflinching gaze and uncanny ability with a rifle have not made her life any easier.

After the violent death of her father, in which she is complicit, Margo takes to the Stark River in her boat, with only a few supplies and a biography of Annie Oakley, in search of her v
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published July 5th 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
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Jason Pettus
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
(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.)

(Originally written for Daniel Casey's Gently Read Literature.)

The more critical examinations of novels I do, the more I'm starting to realize that our enjoyment of them -- and I mean in this case a deep, lasting enjoyment that stays with you even years later -- relies not just on the typical issues of plo
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda Robinson
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Michigan rivers, a girl who shows as much emotion as a river does, and a teak boat with splintery oars. As odd as it is to have a teenaged girl protagonist who doesn't trip or blubber all over herself, it's downright awesome to read a book that portrays the girl all of us Michigan river rats were, or wanted to be. The characters that swirl around Margo are as rich as good river bottom, coppery, flinty and moving along their course without much fuss or interest in what other people are up to. It ...more
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Reading a Bonnie Jo Campbell book is like sitting down for a cuppa, or a cold one, with your very best gal pal. You can let loose and relax, kick your shoes off, loosen your girdle, because she does, her story does, the way it weaves in and around you and floats you along, easy, easy. Just like a river. No pretenses. Nearly effortless. No masks required, because Campbell will see through them, or, more accurately, doesn’t seem to have a clue that masks exist. She is what she is, and her books re ...more
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Derus
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pearl-ruled
This review has been revised and can be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.
Alisa Kester
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
I had previously read Campbell's short story collection, and very much liked it, so I was curious how she'd handle a full length work. The answer is, I like how she writes, but I just couldn't connect to her characters. I remember I called her short stories "likable stories about unlikeable people" and that definitely holds true here. There is something just...likeable about her fiction, even when I pretty much dislike every person in them. In Once Upon a River (spoilers ahead) the main characte ...more
Aug 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
For no particular reason, I've read several novels lately about young women fending for themselves in rural and remote landscapes — Terese Svoboda's Bohemian Girl, Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone, and Bonnie Jo Campbell's Once Upon A River. I don't know if it's coincidence or shifting cultural interests, but I'm glad these books are coming in a genre that's so typically masculine.

Rather than summarize a story that's already been summarized in so many reviews, I'll just say that as with those nov
Book Concierge
Audiobook narrated by Susan Bennett

From the book jacket - After the violent death of her father, sixteen-year-old Margo Crane takes to the Stark River in her grandfather’s rowboat, with only a few supplies and a biography of her hero Annie Oakley, in search of her mother. But the river, Margo’s childhood paradise, is a dangerous place for a young woman traveling alone, and she must be strong to survive, using her knowledge of the natural world and her ability to look unsparingly into the hearts
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book sucked me in. It stayed with me, even when I wasn't reading it. I felt like the things that happened in the book happened in my own life, that's how deeply immersed I became. Considering that many of the things that happened in this book were quite disturbing, it was an emotionally intense read.

It's a story about a girl who grows up on a river, living the simple life, a happy life, until everything goes wrong. But she doesn't give up, she doesn't cower, she faces every adversity heads
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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
More about Bonnie Jo Campbell...
“The Stark River flowed around the oxbow at Murrayville the way blood flowed through Margo Crane's heart.” 6 likes
“It's hard enough to figure out how to live ... without worrying about what the hell's normal.” 4 likes
More quotes…