Grand Ambition

Written by Lisa Michaels
Review by Alice Logsdon

In November 1928, with minimal supplies and a homemade boat, newlyweds Glen and Bessie Hyde left Green River, Utah with the goal of running the Green and Colorado Rivers through the Grand Canyon. They hoped to break a speed record for the trip. If they were successful, Bessie would also be the first woman to complete such a voyage. The last time they were seen was a December docking at Hermit’s Camp in the Grand Canyon.

A gripping tale based on a true story, this fictional account shifts focus between Bessie’s experience on the water, and rescue efforts on land led by Glen’s father, Reith Hyde. Using flashbacks, the author does a fine job of recreating their moment in history. Bessie and Glen are optimistic, adventurous, and in love. They are caught up in America’s obsession with feats of daring and the instant celebrity they will achieve if they successfully reach their goal. Likewise, Reith is the product his own experiences as a widowed father raising three children during times of war and hard economic realities.

This first novel is lucidly written, with great detail given to the characters as well as the extremes of their immediate surroundings. The river is simultaneously a place of great tumult and serenity. It is nature in one of its most powerful forms, the unending flow. No matter the outcome of the journey, the river will go on, carrying its secrets with it.