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In the Heart of the Canyon

Cover of In the Heart of the Canyon

In the Heart of the Canyon

From the author of The Abortionist’s Daughter, a gripping new novel about a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon that changes the lives of everyone on board.Peter, twenty-seven and unemployed,...More
From the author of The Abortionist’s Daughter, a gripping new novel about a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon that changes the lives of everyone on board.Peter, twenty-seven and unemployed,...More
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Description-
  • From the author of The Abortionist’s Daughter, a gripping new novel about a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon that changes the lives of everyone on board.

    Peter, twenty-seven and unemployed, embarks on this journey to avoid his family, while Evelyn, a fifty-year-old biology professor, comes in search of a more visceral life. Ruth and Lloyd, veteran white-water rafters in their seventies, know they will never make this trip again. Jill, a stay-at-home mother with her husband and two boys in tow, craves the luxury of relinquishing control and following someone else’s rules. Mitchell and his wife, Lena, are re-creating a historic river journey undertaken years before. Seventeen-year-old Amy Van Doren and her mother set off on this journey expecting little, especially from each other; together they will face the most daunting journey of all, one that has nothing to do with whitewater rapids.

    And guiding them all is JT Maroney, who, in his 124 previous trips down the Colorado, thinks he has seen everything. Until now.

    IN THE HEART OF THE CANYON brings Elisabeth Hyde’s gifts for character and drama to a strikingly beautiful but persistently hostile landscape, where stifling heat and the volatility of the river combine to create treacherous physical and emotional challenges for all. Stunningly set and expertly paced, it is a literary adventure novel from a master of suspense.


    From the Compact Disc edition.
Excerpts-
  • From the book

    T H E G U E S T S
    Peter Kramer, age twenty-seven, a cartographer from Cincinnati

    Evelyn Burns, age fifty, a biology professor at Harvard University

    The Frankels, from Evanston, Illinois
    Ruth, age seventy-three, a painter
    Lloyd, age seventy-six, a physician

    The Van Dorens, from Mequon, Wisconsin
    Susan, age forty-three, a guidance counselor
    Amy, age seventeen

    The Boyer-Brandts, from Green River, Wyoming
    Mitchell, age fifty-nine, a devoted historian
    Lena, age sixty, a kindergarten teacher

    The Compsons, from Salt Lake City
    Jill, age thirty-eight, a stay-at-home mom
    Mark, age forty, a businessman
    Matthew, age thirteen
    Sam, age twelve


    T H E G U I D E S

    JT Maroney, Trip Leader, age fifty-two

    Abo, the paddle captain, age thirty-five

    Dixie Ann Gillis, age twenty-seven



    PROLOGUE

    Down in the heart of the canyon, in the bone-baking heat, they put their lives on hold.
    Most of the travelers had never experienced anything quite like it. Peter Kramer, whose year mapping the jungles of Central America included a monthlong stay in an unair-conditioned hospital with a fever of 104, found it impossible to suck down more than short little
    gasps of hot air. Evelyn Burns, professor of biology at Harvard University, spent the first day lecturing everyone about the tolerability of dry heat (105 in Arizona being nothing compared to 90 in Boston), then vomited five minutes into the first windstorm. Dr. and Mrs. Lloyd Frankel, river veterans, lay on their sleeping mats in stunned oblivion to the velvety orange wasps that scurried in blind circles on the hot
    sand between them. And Amy Van Doren, who unbeknownst to her mother had weighed in at 237 pounds on the hotel spa scale the night
    before the trip, rigorously shook the bottle of hot sauce over everything on her plate, for she knew that chile peppers made you sweat,
    which in turn would not only cool her off but enable her to lose a few pounds.

    JT, the head guide, had seen it all before. This being his 125th trip down the Colorado River, he'd witnessed time and again the universal
    zombielike walk of his guests at the end of the day when they staggered up the beach in search of a campsite. He called it the Death
    Walk and always reminded his fellow guides not to expect much volunteer help in the first few days of any July trip, as guests acclimated to the suffocating conditions of the Grand Canyon. It was simply a matter of physiology: the human body wasn't designed to go from a comfortable air-conditioned existence to the prehistoric inferno of canyon life in a day. When his heat-stomped campers marveled at his energy, he kept at what he was doing and raised an eyebrow and said, "You'll adjust."

    JT was a man of few words.

    At night it was so hot you slept without a blanket, or even a sheet, for well past midnight the winds continued to fan the heat off the sun-baked canyon walls. In early morning, as people shook out their clothes for scorpions, the air could feel temperate, and they might be
    fine in just a bathing suit; but as soon as the sun's rays came barreling over the canyon walls, out came the long-sleeved cotton shirts, which got repeatedly dunked in the river, wrung out, and worn, soaked to chill, until sundown.

    During the midday furnace, when even the guides crawled into whatever shade they could find and collectively dreamt of that first brisk morning in October when you could see your breath, JT himself would confront the heat head-on. Alone in his raft, he would kneel...
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine A rafting trip down the Colorado River unites an unlikely group of people, and their adventure only gets wilder when a stray dog appears. When their luck turns bad, trip leader J.T. and his motley group must seize what joy they can as they paddle through the Grand Canyon despite injuries, arguments, and surprises. Mark Deakins performs with confidence and competence, making a mildly interesting novel one that is difficult to shut off once the myriad characters take form. Cassandra Campbell's role is smaller, but she too is part of the production's appeal. Even when the tension increases, the narrators remain consistent. Filled with appreciation for nature's beauty and peppered with incidents that demonstrate human foibles, CANYON is worth the ride. L.B.F. (c) AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
  • Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review
    "Hyde is well qualified to guide her readers through this . . . journey. . . . Her prose is vigorous and natural, her perception subtle, her voice and those o f her characters all-American."
  • Kim Hubbard, People "Engaging. . . . Hyde has a keen eye for social dynamics, but she's just as good at keeping the adrenaline pumping. . . . She expertly evokes the thrill and terror of rapid-running. . . . A bracing ride."
  • Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly "There's nothing predictable about either Hyde's plot or her searing conclusion."
  • Diane White, The Boston Globe "Hyde vividly portrays both the wonders and horrors of white-water rafting."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "An astute, engrossing, character-driven affair. . . . The novel succeeds as both a study of strangers striving toward a common goal and as a suspenseful drama filled with angst and humanity. Hyde outshines herself with this wild ride."
  • Page Lambert, author of In Search of Kinship, leader of creative river journeys for women "People say that a river trip down the Grand Canyon can change your life. But sometimes, as Elisabeth Hyde's quirky characters soon discover, it's best to let go of expectations--because on the river nothing, nothing, is what you expect. This finely wrought page-turner will keep you on a wild ride for all 226 miles. You won't want to put it down."
  • Susan Clifford Braun, Library Journal "The reader is swept along with the characters through the strikingly beautiful canyon and the potentially deadly river. Great scenic description and fully believable characters make this adventure story well worth the ride."
  • Beatriz Terrazas, The Dallas Morning News "Hyde has concocted a near perfect blend of humor and drama, heartbreak and redemption."
  • Good Housekeeping "Hyde's novel unfolds on a harrowing rafting trip down the Colorado, during which 12 strangers share life-and-death moments and some lasting transformations."
  • Leslie Doran, The Durango Herald "In the Heart of the Canyon is a book that flows like the river described within its pages. . . . Hyde has crafted a page-turner that is full of suspense and populated with interesting and emotionally appealing characters. . . . In the Heart of the Canyon is a great read for hot summer days and cool nights."
  • Chris Bohjalian "A smart and powerful thriller."
  • Anita Shreve, The Washington Post Book World "Arresting. . . . Astute. . . . Hyde is an author who should be with us for some time."
  • Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air (NPR) "Darkly witty. . . . [The Abortionist's Daughter] accordions out into a suspense story and a comic noir, a novel of manners and an improbably romance. . . . Striking."
  • The New York Times Book Review "Fascinating and complex."
  • The Boston Globe "What a pleasure it is to read this well-crafted novel with complicated characters and interesting ideas."
  • Joseph Finder, author of Company Man and Killer Instinct "This is ferociously paced, up-all-night suspense, an exquisitely wrought murder mystery that's also richly layered and morally complex, as intelligent and provocative as it is impossible to put down. Elisabeth Hyde is a master."
  • The Denver Post "In keeping with the truly best writers, Hyde examines both sides of the issue, but offers only questions that probe deep into the secret hearts of readers everywhere. For answers, they will have to turn to themselves. . . . Compelling and timely. . . . A must-read."
  • USA Today "Hyde does a terrific job of fleshing out her characters and dissecting all their problems."
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