Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Theme: Rivers

Beloved - (ISBN: 978-0307264886)

by Toni Morrison

With haunting language, Toni Morrison creates a tale of myth and mysticism as she describes an escaping slave, Sethe, who must choose to murder her own child to prevent the child from ending up in slavery. After Sethe’s river journey on the heels of her delivery, Sethe settles in with an old friend in the “safe” north. An unworldly “spirit child” comes to live with them, the incarnation of the dead baby.

Bridge of Sighs - (ISBN: 978-1400030903)

by Richard Russo

This story of small-town, industrial America plays out against the backdrop of a tanning factory whose lethal runoff has poisoned the community’s river and left many workers unemployed or ill. Follow the tale of the leading citizens and their almost incestuous relationships. In what famous city is the Bridge of Sighs located?

Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff - (ISBN: 9780316107457)

by Rosemary Mahoney

Rosemary loves rowing, so she manages to secretly buy a small boat and eventually to journey by herself up the Nile. No women in Egypt are permitted to travel alone, especially not on a dangerous and unpatrolled river. Somehow she starts her trip and survives, even when she wakes up in the middle of the night at the side of the Nile with an eager man staring at her. If you are an armchair traveler, this is the book for you!

Last Night in Twisted River - (ISBN: 978-1400063840)

by John Irving

A pair of father and son employees in a logging camp who have lost their mother and wife to the community river embark on a journey to other places. The river is both a water way and a symbol of the travel they undertake leading to adventures, accidents, unexpected employment, and education. In typical Irving style, the characters are unbelievable and real at the same time. Their adventures pull at credibility in this, the author’s newest novel.

The River - (ISBN: 978-0-316-04168-3)

by Mary Jane Beaufrand

Ronnie has a tough time moving with her parents to a village in Oregon. Eventually, she tries to adjust, but when a child she babysits for is found dead in a nearby river, she suspects foul play. Her investigation leads her into danger and romance. If you enjoy mysteries, give this one a try!

Youghiogheny, Appalachian River - (ISBN: 978-0822953616)

by Tim Palmer

This non-fiction book explores the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania, located near Ohio Pyle State Park. Thousands of people go rafting and watching in its waters every year. Palmer tells the story of the people who visit and the companies who provide the boats, exploring the river as it meanders down to Pittsburgh.

Crossing the River - (ISBN: 978-1880684924)

by Nguyen Huy Thiep

Empire Falls - (ISBN: 978-0375726408)

by Richard Russo

Tree of Rivers: The Story of the Amazon - (ISBN: 978-0500514016)

by John Hemming

Activities for this Theme

If you like poetry, take a look at “By the Rivers of Babylon We Sat Down and Wept” by Lord Byron.


Share water conservation ideas with your community


Learn about river law.


See the DVD Beloved and compare it with the book.