Casting off into the gothic backwoods of Once Upon a River is a bracing experience. Its teen heroine Margo Crane is abandoned by her mother, raped by her uncle, and causes untold trouble by her willful shooting habits. Margo idolizes Annie Oakley, and recalls characters from generations of adventure novels, but establishes a vivid and unique resonance of her own. Ultimately, her wild quest for love and freedom is a heartbreakingly beautiful journey for the reader.
— Sara, Atlanta
“A demonstration of outstanding skills on the river of American literature.” —Entertainment Weekly
"Bonnie Jo Campbell has built her new novel like a modern-day craftsman from the old timbers of our national myths about loners living off the land, rugged tales as perilous as they are alluring. Without sacrificing any of its originality, this story comes bearing the saw marks of classic American literature, the rough-hewn sister of The Leatherstocking Tales, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Walden.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post
About the Author
Bonnie Jo Campbell teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University. The author of Once Upon a River, American Salvage, and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, she lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
With all the fixings
of a Johnny Cash song—love, loss, redemption—Campbell captures these Michiganders
and their earthy, brutal paradise in tales rich with insight and well worth the
Campbell has a ruthless and
precise eye for the details of the physical world. . . . An excellent American
parable about the consequences of our favorite ideal, freedom. — Jane Smiley
Margo’s struggle to
survive proves irresistible, like the tug of the Stark itself.