True North: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

It’s the early nineties and Sam Brecht has just bought his uncle’s rafting business in the Wisconsin Northwoods. But what he doesn’t know is that the town has some new slick competition, and on top of that, there’s talk of selling out what turns out to be sacred Native land to out-of-town miners. And what Sam hasn’t told his wife Swami is that his teaching job is on shaky ground – there’s no back-up plan. True North is an adventure novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat rooting for their marriage, their business, non-catastrophic runs, and the wilderness itself. I guess you’d call that quadruple excitement!

— Daniel Goldin


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.

About the Author

Andrew J. Graff is the author of novel Raft of Stars. His fiction and essays have appeared in Image and Dappled Things. Andrew grew up fishing, hiking, and hunting in Wisconsin's Northwoods. After a tour of duty in Afghanistan, he earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He lives in Ohio and teaches at Wittenberg University.

Praise For…

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)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063161412
ISBN-10: 0063161419
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: January 16th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English