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Cover of Narrow River, Wide Sky

Jenny Forrester

Narrow River, Wide Sky

  • nonfiction / memoir
  • ISBN 978-0-9970683-5-1

On the Colorado Plateau between slot canyons and rattlesnakes, Jenny Forrester grew up with her mother and brother in a single-wide trailer proudly displaying an American flag. Forrester’s powerfully eloquent story reveals a rural small town comprising God-fearing Republicans, ranchers, Mormons, and Native Americans. With sensitivity and resilience, Forrester navigates feelings of isolation, an abusive boyfriend, sexual assault, and a failed college attempt to forge a separate identity. As young adults, after their mother’s accidental death, Forrester and her brother are left with an increasingly strained relationship that becomes a microcosm of America’s political landscape. Narrow River, Wide Sky is a breathtaking, determinedly truthful story about one woman’s search for identity within the mythology of family and America itself.


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Praise for Narrow River, Wide Sky

Narrow River, Wide Sky unwrites the story of family and America through the flutter of hearts beating or beaten up, through a skull on the piano, through the desert of our longings into the river of our sorrow—or is it hope, or maybe love, that keeps us alive in spite of ourselves.  Jenny Forrester has hit the mother lode.

Lidia Yuknavitch
Author of The Chronology of Water

Forrester’s debut memoir is a lyrical account of coming of age as a woman in the West. Amid urgent geography, aching choices, and uncertain faith, Forrester explores the moments and forces that hold us together and shape our lives. This family flickers on the page like a constellation; Forrester is both a star unto herself and an inextricable part of the glowing whole.

Megan Kruse
Author of Call Me Home

Jenny Forrester writes about her complicated relationship with her mother in moving, poetic prose, reminding the reader that love is layered, human, and requires strength, wherever you can find it.

Kerry Cohen
Author of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity

Jenny Forrester’s characters are as enigmatic as the landscape they inhabit—at once rugged and sensitive, impoverished and patriotic, hungry and enduring. This is a voice of the American West we’ve rarely heard before; a deeply intelligent story that asks, again and again, what it means to belong in a world that wants to erase you.

Ariel Gore
Author of The End of Eve

A taut memoir about coming of age in the middle of nowhere where there are no minor decisions. Narrow River, Wide Sky is a haunting, intimate visit to the unforgiving landscape of life.

Mark Russell
Author of God Is Disappointed in You and Apocrypha Now

Narrow River, Wide Sky is a courageous and unflinching journey through the elements large and small that forge a feminist heart. Forrester’s vulnerable and engaging style leaves you wanting more.

Lasara Firefox Allen
Author of Jailbreaking the Goddess

The landscape and culture of west Colorado are vividly evoked in an accomplished literary debut. A modest, thoughtful memoir that traces hard-won liberation from the past.

Kirkus Reviews

This is a moving memoir about how the influence of family can remain long after people drift apart, and how one never truly forgets the circumstances of one’s childhood….scenes truly read as if from a work of literary fiction, with an excellent sense of place that makes the town into a character. Forrester doesn’t gloss over the difficult parts of her life, but rather tells stories of how that adversity formed a stronger individual.

Jeff Fleischer, Foreword Reviews

The West two ways: [Jenny Forester’s] new memoir, Narrow River, Wide Sky is an unsentimental portrait of small-town Colorado, a formative environment that both oppressed her and shaped her identity. The book explores the complex forces of family, politics, and religion and her feminist awakenings in a chauvinist world.

Portland Monthly

Narrow River, Wide Sky by Jenny Forrester is an impressive debut. Her story is raw, truthful, and unflinching. The author has created a work that celebrates the sense of place, especially the American West.

Leslie Doran, The Durango Herald

Portland’s ­Hawthorne Books continually publishes books that sound quiet but contain a force. Jenny ­Forrester’s Narrow River, Wide Sky: A Memoir is one of those books, the story of a small town west Colorado girl who struggles to find a way out and a way to live.

Brian Juenemann, The Register Guard

A heart rendering portrayal of small-town life, Jenny Forrester vividly evokes the landscape and culture of the conservative Colorado town where she grew up… a breathtaking, story.

Dein Sofley, The Coachella Review