True North: A Novel
Andrew Graff shines again in True North. Join the Brecht family as they navigate the rapids of river, marriage, and their future as they try and save a family-owned rafting company and come to terms with what’s truly important in their lives.
From the author of Raft of Stars comes a heartfelt novel of marriage and whitewater rafting, following one couple as they navigate the changing currents of family, community, and the river itself.
As the summer of 1993 begins, Sam and Swami Brecht roll into town with a twenty-six-foot Winnebago camper van, their three young kids, and the deed to Woodchuck Rafting Company. Sam and Swami met as young, adventurous river guides but, a decade later, find themselves weighed down by money worries and the demands of adulthood. The town of Thunderwater, in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, could be the fresh start their marriage needs. But Woodchuck, once the property of Sam’s eccentric uncle, has seen better days and will need a serious overhaul if it is going to stand a chance at survival.
Soon Sam and Swami learn they are not the only ones looking for change and profit on the river. A competing rafting outfit, clashing raft guides, stubborn townsfolk, and an exploratory mining company begin to threaten their tenuous livelihood. Then nature intervenes, in the form of historic floods throughout the Midwest. Amid tumultuous currents both on and off the river, Sam and Swami struggle to maintain the new life they’ve built. Before the summer draws to a close, the Brechts must learn to face the floodwaters together in order to create a sustainable future for their family, the town, and the pristine river from which it all flows.
Praise for True North: A Novel
“True North is an engaging, character-driven portrait of a marriage under pressure from financial deception and conflicting desires. Graff writes about the outdoors, particularly rivers and river rafting, with an immersive blend of knowledge and passion.” — Charles Frazier, author of The Trackers and Cold Mountain
“If you’ve ever loved a special place in the woods, True North will flood you with all the feels. Andrew Graff’s clear-eyed, sensitive examination of marriage, family, and community weaves through a delightful story of whitewater adventure and small-town tension that’s impossible to put down. I loved it!" — Shelby Van Pelt, author of Remarkably Bright Creatures
“I adored Andrew J. Graff’s Raft of Stars, and his second novel does not disappoint. I couldn’t help but root for Sam and Swami and their family, as well as everyone else in their ragtag crew of river rafters. True North rolls seamlessly from humor to despair, from beauty to destruction—but in the end is a gorgeous story of family, community, and grace. I absolutely loved it.” — Kimi Cunningham Grant, USA Today bestselling author of These Silent Woods
“With this exciting and intelligent family drama, Graff returns to the Wisconsin Northwoods terrain of Raft of Stars. . . .Graff expertly balances his character-driven domestic fiction with an exciting adventure story. Readers will enjoy the ride.” — Publishers Weekly
“Graff charts the path of a marriage in crisis, with small slights and missteps threatening to send either party overboard. Sam and Swami echo the stubborn, resilient couples found in works by Matthew Norman, Sarah Dunn, and Meg Wolitzer, and True North will appeal to anyone who can relate to giving everything you've got to one last plan.” — Booklist (starred)
“Need to lift your spirits? True North does the trick . . . . Warmhearted . . . If you’re looking for a story that lets grace finally wash over its characters, come on down. The water’s great. Which is where True North really sparkles . . . . The most terrific passages of True North send us shooting through rapids in prose that feels both precise and chaotic. Don’t be surprised if waves crash over the margins of these pages.” — Ron Charles, Washington Post