Pushing the River

| April 14, 2019


Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune: “A remarkable book. An unbelievable pleasure. Stylish. Packs an emotional punch.”

In Pushing the River, Barbara Monier’s third novel, a family crisis erupts when a fifteen-year-old becomes pregnant and decides to keep the baby.

Madeline describes her house as an empty shell inhabited by ghosts. She has been living alone for years, keeping to a few rooms, surrounded by the possessions of her ex-husband and grown children. Over the course of four months, people accumulate in the household one by one—including Madeline’s new love interest, who unexpectedly shows up carrying grocery bags full of his clothes.

Pushing the River is told largely through Madeline’s eyes. As we discover how she came to “push the river,” the unfolding action is interspersed with Madeline’s memories of her own mother, driving a message of sometimes-anarchic confusion, occasional angst, and powerfully abiding love across the generations of a familiar American family.

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