After River

After River

A Novel

Book - 2008
Average Rating:
Rate this:

He will change their lives forever. . . .

At fifteen, Natalie Ward believes her life is perfect. Growing up on a dairy farm in the mountains of British Columbia less than two miles from the American border, she knows little of the outside world. But she knows family. A family so close and loving that they are the envy of the nearby town of Atwood. Friends and neighbors, young and old alike, show up regularly on their farmhouse porch--all willing to share in the never-ending daily chores in exchange for a place at the Ward family table. Natalie cherishes her position as the only daughter of the beautiful Nettie Ward--the pride of the Catholic Ladies Auxiliary--and the town's milkman, Gus Ward--the darling of Atwood housewives. She adores her three brothers, especially the eldest, Boyer, whom she idolizes with a childlike worship. Like her mother, Natalie believes their lives are blessed, as rich and as sweet as the fresh milk that is their livelihood.

Everything changes one hot July afternoon in 1966 when a long-haired stranger walks up the winding dirt road to their door. The arrival of this soft-spoken American, a Vietnam War resister, will test the morals and beliefs of the Ward family and their close-knit community. The catastrophic events that are set in motion will leave relationships shattered and Natalie separated from the family she loves in ways that she could never have imagined.

Thirty-five years later, Natalie receives a late-night phone call from her now-estranged brother Boyer. Their mother is dying. Torn between the love of her mother and the fear of the past, Natalie returns to the town she has spent her entire adult life avoiding. As she travels back to her childhood home she steels herself against the bittersweet memories of that summer day in 1966 and the tragedy that followed. But before Natalie can find redemption, she must confront the secrets and horrors of a past she has desperately tried to forget.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2008
Edition: 1st Canadian ed
ISBN: 9781554681662
Branch Call Number: MIL
Characteristics: 342 p. ;,24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

May 27, 2016

I found this book captivating from the first page. Knowing dairy farmers and living in BC made it especially relevant for me. A great read for anyone growing up in the sixties.

Apr 20, 2016

good look at family dynamics and the damaging aspects of misunderstandings and the pain caused by silences. there was foreshadowing of certain plot lines but enough unexpected twists to keep it interesting.

ontherideau Feb 19, 2015

A good choice for those who enjoyed Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 27, 2015

Set in a farming community in the Kootenays during the Vietnam era, a family takes in a draft dodger as a hired hand. With his appearance, serious cracks in the town's veneer are exposed, and family relationships are destroyed.

Jul 07, 2014

This was not my usual interest & I found it compelling, quickly finished. Being of an age to understand generational outlooks, what's done or not done; what's lived with as the choice made at an early age, only to be disappointed & unfulfilled, yet 'sticking with it' because one cannot leave the arrangement. I felt the story demonstrated how religion can destroy or build a life. Very believable situation for a young girl with little knowledge of the world, somewhat isolated life. I didn't expect several of the outcomes.

Jul 05, 2014

This book is especially interesting to someone who was a young person during the Vietnam war. A very good read. Relevant to the times and the coming of age of a young girl.

Jan 27, 2013

Captivating story - couldn't wait to get back to it but, at the same time, I didn't want it to end. I have already recommended it to several people.

Demarcation Apr 05, 2012

I could not put this book down! It is great if you like stories about families, relationships and the pain and sorrow of life

May 11, 2011

Beautifully written. Her vivid descriptions made me feel as though I was actually there.Milner has won many awards for this book and I couldn't wait to read her next book "The Promise of Rain". A totally different subject and it didn't disappoint.

Devashar Mar 21, 2010

Such a sad story of grief, regret, and most of all love. What Natalie Ward learns of these three emotions will be imprinted in the minds of readers for a long time.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

Apr 19, 2009

awake88 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at PMPL

To Top