Narrow River, Wide Sky
In the vein of The Liar's Club and The Glass Castle, Jenny Forrester's memoir perfectly captures both place and a community situated on the Colorado Plateau between slot canyons and rattlesnakes, where she grew up with her mother and brother in a single-wide trailer proudly displaying an American flag. Forrester’s powerfully eloquent story reveals a rural small town comprising God-fearing Republicans, ranchers, Mormons, and Native Americans. With sensitivity and resilience, Forrester navigates feelings of isolation, an abusive boyfriend, sexual assault, and a failed college attempt to forge a separate identity. As young adults, after their mother’s accidental death, Forrester and her brother are left with an increasingly strained relationship that becomes a microcosm of America’s political landscape. Narrow River, Wide Sky is a breathtaking, determinedly truthful story about one woman’s search for identity within the mythology of family and America itself.

Narrow River, Wide Sky Details

TitleNarrow River, Wide Sky
Author
FormatPaperback
ReleaseMay 16th, 2017
PublisherHawthorne Books
ISBN0997068353
ISBN-139780997068351
Number of pages212 pages
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography

Narrow River, Wide Sky Review

  • Deb Stone
    May 7, 2017
    Jenny Forrester’s debut book Narrow River, Wide Sky will make you breathe the way an old-school slide show does. Oohs and ahhs, like when she describes “where a creek flowed into the narrow river from the high mountains to the south and spread out into the grassy pasture where the rosehips grew.” Or, “the high desert and the mountains and alpine meadows while I listened to the rain and drank coffee…” You see the image as if she’s slipped a slide in a projector, imagine you were there, feel the m Jenny Forrester’s debut book Narrow River, Wide Sky will make you breathe the way an old-school slide show does. Oohs and ahhs, like when she describes “where a creek flowed into the narrow river from the high mountains to the south and spread out into the grassy pasture where the rosehips grew.” Or, “the high desert and the mountains and alpine meadows while I listened to the rain and drank coffee…” You see the image as if she’s slipped a slide in a projector, imagine you were there, feel the moist earth, smell the dusty air. An old-fashioned slide show with its gentle whirring motor gives more than distant views, and so does Forrester’s writing. She shifts to the rapid clicks of staccato sentences when the going gets tough, clicking faster through slide after slide: “Brian became the man of the house.” Click. “The guns went under his bed.” Click. You can hear life shift in Forrester’s prose. The small town dreams of a girl who believed herself too much—too talkative, too fat, too strong—are bound to result in dark days. “And I spiraled away from God. I practiced my poker face in the dark.” The white space on the page lets the reader spend the millisecond between one slide and the next, where one’s interior wilderness fills each with their own brand of grief or guilt. When Forrester writes, “And he didn’t say anything else,” we can feel all the not-said things in our own lives that left us feeling bereft. Just when you dizzy from the rush of short tight sentences for all those short tight moments, Forrester sets you free in lyrical prose: “The water my mother breathed in her last breaths could be the water at my feet on an Oregon shore. The cycle is constantly connecting the ocean and all things, resting sometimes in a heart-shaped agate or a universe of living and dying in a tide pool or in a bird bone sunning on a beach after its journeys.” Narrow River, Wide Sky is a memoir of place: Oregon rain, Colorado sky. A fable of broken things: kitten paws, promises, diving rules, and faith. It's a slide show of making and breaking of kinship, the loss and reclamation of self. It’s a story of heart as big and wide as the Colorado range, a river rushing toward an ocean of grace.
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  • Adrienne
    May 29, 2017
    Eloquent, lyrical, honest, and resilient. I love this book and this author.
  • Kate
    May 23, 2017
    Forrester writes beautifully and poignantly about struggles with family and the healing beauty found in the Pacific NW after she, her husband, and young daughter (now an adult with a Master's Degree) settled in Portland. This story spans her early childhood to the present.
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  • Shari
    May 11, 2017
    Jenny Forrester's new memoir is gorgeously written; she is both unflinchingly honest and generous of heart when she navigates the tricky territories of family and the ways in which place can shape our identities. And while her story is grounded in a very specific time and place, the truth of the story transcends it. I deeply appreciate a writer who can capture the beauty of a place without romanticizing it and write about people in all their messiness while still allowing them to be fully human.
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  • Mary
    May 7, 2017
    Loved this memoir by Jenny Forrester. Compelling, page-turning yet never overly dramatic. Truth-telling and vulnerable yet never whiney. Jenny has worked hard, in both prose, and apparently life, to understand the nuances and complexities of life. She creates vivid images of the world she inhabited, the high and dry mountains of southern Colorado. You'll trust her as a narrator, she has a generous yet stingingly honest approach to events and characters in her story. This is a book I'll read agai Loved this memoir by Jenny Forrester. Compelling, page-turning yet never overly dramatic. Truth-telling and vulnerable yet never whiney. Jenny has worked hard, in both prose, and apparently life, to understand the nuances and complexities of life. She creates vivid images of the world she inhabited, the high and dry mountains of southern Colorado. You'll trust her as a narrator, she has a generous yet stingingly honest approach to events and characters in her story. This is a book I'll read again.
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  • Kirsten
    May 11, 2017
    A beautiful love story to the land and to the author's family. I couldn't put it down.
  • Dianah
    March 26, 2017
    Jenny Forrester's engrossing memoir "Narrow River, Wide Sky" is a coming-of-age tale that unfolds effortlessly. From her hard-scrabble childhood, through her turbulent teens, into her awakening young adulthood, Forrester's story covers poverty, politics, partnering, and more, against the backdrop of her ever-growing awareness of feminism. She chronicles her fraught relationships with her mother, her absent father, and her brother; the boys and men who take advantage; and the small-minded folks w Jenny Forrester's engrossing memoir "Narrow River, Wide Sky" is a coming-of-age tale that unfolds effortlessly. From her hard-scrabble childhood, through her turbulent teens, into her awakening young adulthood, Forrester's story covers poverty, politics, partnering, and more, against the backdrop of her ever-growing awareness of feminism. She chronicles her fraught relationships with her mother, her absent father, and her brother; the boys and men who take advantage; and the small-minded folks who make up her rural neighborhoods. Told in a straight forward voice, this memoir is a wise look at the way life shapes us, and how we can be redeemed by finding our own truth. Funny, poignant, beautiful, and raw, Forrester's memoir is a must-read addition to Pacific Northwest literature.
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