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January 20, 2024

True North by Andrew J. Graff ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

A heartfelt novel of marriage and whitewater rafting, following one couple as they navigate the changing currents of family, community, and the river itself.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of literary fiction novel True North by Andrew J. Graff
January 2024; Echo; 978-0063161412
audio, ebook, print (304 pages); literary fiction

Adventurers go white water rafting because they enjoy the danger of the white water, the rocks that are suddenly in the way of the boat, and the small waterfalls that need to be ridden over.  It's very similar to the marriage of Sam and Swami - their marriage was in the white choppy water all of the time but there were hidden rocks and waterfalls that made it harder to traverse it on any given day.

It's 1993 and Sam, Swami, and their three children are headed to the Northwoods of Wisconsin.  They are driving a new Winnebago and have the deed to Woodchuck Rafting Company in their possession.  Sam's uncle had talked him into buying the company and made lots of promises about how good business was. Swami is not real excited about this trip but Sam is in the process of losing his job and is always on the lookout for adventure.  He and Swami met when they were river guides and deep down Sam knows that his marriage is in trouble and hopes that life on the river will help bring their relationship back to where it was when they first met.  Along the way, Sam hits a deer and the camper has to be towed to the rafting company.  What they see there is not what they expected.  The camp is in disrepair and is going to need a lot of work to look decent.  There are a couple of current guides who wish Sam the best but don't seem too concerned with the state of the camp.  Sam and Swami find out very quickly that business is not good and that Sam's uncle hasn't told him the truth about the business.  Swami gets mad at Sam and takes the three kids to the campground after telling Sam that he should stay at the rafting company.  Sam quickly finds out that there is a new competing raft company with all the glitz and glamour that will attract new customers.  There's also a controversy in the small town about a mining company that wants to buy a lot of the local land to mine.  The main question becomes whether Sam can earn enough from the rafting to support his family but does he really still have a family or is Swami being at the campground with their kids a look at their lives going in opposite directions in the future.

This is a family saga with a lot of beautiful scenery thrown in.  You can tell that the author loves the outdoors by the beautiful scenes he paints with worlds on the beauty of the river and the surrounding land.  There's a lot of adventure, especially when they are rafting on the river, and it's apparent that the author knows his rafting terminology.  Despite the beautiful parts of the story - this is basically a family story with an upcoming decision of staying together or separating at its core.  Swami is basically sick of Sam's ideas as he looks for some excitement in his life.  Sam seems to be a bit naive about his wife's true feelings but one of his main goals in his life is to keep her and their family safe and happy.  So what will the outcome be at the end of the summer?  Will Swami and the kids go home without Sam or is their love strong enough that they can weather their current problems and stay together?

This is a book full of nature and quirky characters but mostly it's a book about family and making changes and hopefully finding forgiveness for each other.  

Other Books by Andrew J. Graff:
Raft of Stars - see review here.

Buy True North at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.

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