Bonnie Jo Campbell has created a fiercely memorable heroine in Margo Crane. Once Upon a River (W.W. Norton, $15.95) begins in 1970s rural Michigan, where the introspective and talented teenage sharpshooter Margo navigates the rocky current of her family’s brutal relationships. When tragedy inevitably strikes, she takes her rifle and sets off in the boat her grandfather left her; the upstream journey takes her through the next few years of her life. With rough, yet delicate, strokes, Campbell paints Margo’s tenacious stubbornness and river-deep yearning for a kind of life that died hard when the West was finally conquered. This is an adventure you won’t want to step away from once you begin it.
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