The River Paperback

Find yourself drawn to The River

by Michael Neale

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The River

Full Product Description

  • For fans of novels with a message
  • The River is a novel about destiny and how lives can be transformed
  • You'll find a poignant message to carry with you always

A new way of using compelling fiction to reveal a truth about God's relationship with his creation, 'The River' gives you a novel with an underlying meaning that impacts on the heart and mind of experienced Christian readers, and anyone who loves a good read with the heart of a spiritual, faith based romance.

With it's realistic weathered-effect book cover, and authentically simulated worn-edged pages, 'The River' is as many layered as Bunyan's classic, Pilgrim’s Progress. This modern day allegory gives you the story of one man’s journey out of loss, tragedy, anger and fear to all that he was meant to be. Using the wonder, beauty and power of nature, The River is a parable of relationship and reconciliation with the source of all life. Michael Neale’s debut novel presents the uncontrollable creative and re-creative power of the eternal as a mighty river that gives, takes away, cleanses and restores.

Reasons to read or give 'The River' by Michael Neale

•    Open up a story that opens the mind as well as the heart
•    Begin a journey that leads to unexpected reunion with God
•    Enter a story of God's unpredictable yet unchangeable nature
•    Reveal the power of reconciliation through faith
•    Encourage another to find their true identity in God
•    Explore the eternity of God in the wonder of nature
•    Discover how God restores even through tragedy and loss
•    Feel the impact of faith based fiction on a deeper level

What you need to know about 'The River'...

Through a chance encounter in an airport lounge, Neale unfolds the story of Gabriel Clarke, white-water canoeist and expert guide to the world’s most beautiful and most unpredictable rivers. In the great tradition of John Bunyan, C S Lewis and J R R Tolkein, The River is a deeply spiritual journey in which the nature of the eternal is expressed through, the story, its biblically named characters and the landscape itself.

Capitalised throughout the book, ‘The River’ is the consistent character and influence in the life of Gabriel Clarke. Beginning on the banks of the Colorado, Gabriel expresses his alienation, fear and resentment of The River that took his father through an act of tragic heroism. Through a succession of good friends and chance discoveries at the adventure camp formerly managed by his father, Gabriel faces up to the deep emotions that keep him from reconnecting with The River, the true source and purpose of his existence.

Discovering circumstances surrounding his father’s death brings confused feelings of bitterness and the realisation that his wilderness soul mate, Tabitha, would never have existed without his father's sacrifice. Throughout, The River flows, shapes, cleanses and restores, revealing and hiding itself. But the grown, mature and well rounded Clarke of the airport lounge is not a man who controlled and defeated the wildness of the river. Rather he’s a man who gave himself to what The River might make of him.

"I've experienced The River in many ways in my life,” writes Clarke. “I haven't always understood those experiences. What I will say is that The River has allowed me to feel the deepest grief and given me the greatest joy."

For Gabriel, becoming the man he was always meant to be is no easy choice. Coming to terms with his past and learning all his father wanted him to know about The River requires courage and forgiveness – for himself, for others and for The River itself. And that, in truth is often beyond the best of us. - Les Ellison

The River by Michael Neale was published by Thomas Nelson in September 2012 and is our 14222nd best seller. The ISBN for The River is 9781401688486.

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Associated Articles

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In Deep With The River In Deep With The River
Posted: Friday, October 12th
One To Watch: Michael Neale, Author of The River One To Watch: Michael Neale, Author of The River
Posted: Monday, September 3rd

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Publisher's Description

Gabriel Clarke is mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. The rushing waters beckon him to experience freedom and adventure. But something holds him back the memory of the terrible event he witnessed on The River when he was just five years old something no child should ever see.

Chains of fear and resentment imprison Gabriel, keeping him from discovering the treasures of The River. He remains trapped, afraid to take hold of the life awaiting him.

When he returns to The River after years away, his heart knows he is finally home. His destiny is within reach. Claiming that destiny will be the hardest—and bravest—thing he has ever done.


Growing up in rural Kansas, Gabriel Clarke was mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. From deep within, Gabriel's passion for The River was undeniable. The rushing waters beckoned him to experience freedom and adventure - and leave his dark past behind.

But something holds him back...

As Gabriel came of age in Kansas, chains of fear and resentment imprisoned him, keeping him from discovering the treasures of The River - its powerful rapids, relentless gradients, and boulder-strewn sections of majestic splendour. He couldn't let go of a horrible event that he had witnessed on The River when he was four years old - something no youngster should ever see.

When he returns to The River after years away, his heart knows he is finally home. His destiny is within reach. Claiming that destiny will be the hardest and bravest thing he has ever done.


Gifted writer, performer, and masterful storyteller are all phrases used to describe Michael Neale. And with the highly anticipated September 2012 release of his first novel The River, Michael is finding more and more ways to share his gift of storytelling as an author.

With this first work of fiction, readers will find themselves immersed in the lives of John Clarke and his son, Gabriel on what should have been an ordinary day in the wilderness near their home. Then in one moment, life changed for everyone forever.

A moving story with a message that will touch each reader individually, The River will wind its way into your heart in ways you never expected.

In between his travels, Michael serves on the team of Worship Leaders at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, where he lives with his wife Leah, and their three children Micah, Maisie, and Wyatt.
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Contests and Chapters

- From an Entry in a Journal
- A Note From the Author
- Introduction
1. The Big Hike
2. Life in Kansas
3. The Pond
4. Corn Dogs and Marbles
5. Mister Earl and the Pig Trip
6. The New Teacher
7. A Visitor Comes to the Farm
8. A Birthday Gift
9. The Phone Call
10. The Trip to the River
11. The Girl
12. The River Speaks
13. Samuel and Big Water Adventures
14. Class V
15. The Last Night
16. Goodbye and The Journal
17. No More Kansas
18. Hanging Out with Ezra
19. A Wonderful Surprise
20. A Dinner to Remember
21. The Night Run
22. The War Room
23. A Trip Home
- Epilogue from the Author
- Acknowledgements


'The River is alive, and it’s moving all over the world. The River is wild, free and untameable. A beautifully crafted novel by a gifted communicator!” – John C. Maxwell, founder of Equip and The John Maxwell Company. The River is magical, full of wonder and mystery. For thousands of years it’s been carving it’s way through the earth. A work of art! – Lowell, “Bud” Paxson, founder of ION Television Network. The more you experience the River, the more you must stay close. And the more you experience the River, the more you live. A captivating story told by a masterful storyteller.” – Jordan Rubin, New York Times Bestselling Author. Truly riveting ... I couldn’t put it down! – Paul Baloche, Award-Winning Songwriter... This book will inspire your soul!” – Rebecca St. James, Grammy Award-Winning Artist.'



"Beauty, sacrifice, forgiveness, redemption and a son’s love for his father… the themes in this novel moved me to tears. Michael Neale has skilfully crafted a captivating read! The River will inspire your soul.” – Recebba St James, Grammy Award-Winning Artist.

“The River is a captivating story told by a masterful storyteller. Page by page, the characters drew me in and would not let me go. The River awakened the adventurer inside me. Entertaining, thought provoking, challenging, and compelling… You can’t read The River and not be impacted… I certainly was.” – Jordan Rubin, New York Times Bestselling Author of ‘The Maker’s Diet’.

“The River is a beautifully crafted novel by a gifted communicator. Michael Neale has successfully parlayed his ability to inspire from the performing platform to the written page. The River will inspire readers to live a life they were destined for.” – John C. Maxwell, Founder of Equip and the John Maxwell Company.

“Truly riveting. I felt like Iwas living the story and experiencing the events as they unfolded and couldn’t put the book down. Michael Neale has woven wonder and wisdom into a story that will continue to inspire hearts for years to come. Read this book, it will open your eyes.” - Paul Baloche, Award-Winning Songwriter and Recording Artist.

“I’ve heard Michael Neale tell stories for years. I’ve been encouraged, uplifted, made to laugh, and brought to tears by them. The River does this and so much more. This story got a hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I believe this novel will inspire many to conquer their fears and really live!” – Dr J Todd Mullins. Lead Pastor Christ Fellowship Church, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.


“You can read this story like a great adventure book or you can read this story as a spiritual read and think about The River as God.” – Marian, goodreads.

“The River is a fine novel about growing up, forgiveness, adventure, nature’s beauty, love, fear and sadness. I read it cover to cover in one session, quite unusual.” – Henk-Jan der Klis, good reads.

“The River is a great story of a boy becoming a man, overcoming his demons, growing strong and confident, facing his fears, and finding success despite the serious blows and setbacks. That story is always empowering for me.” – Kim, goodreads.

“Mr. Neale knows how to tell a story that is both interesting and thought-provoking and I recommend it highly.” – Victor Gentile, reviewer.

“The River took hold of my heart and has not let it go. I really enjoyed this read. I wonderful read indeed.” – M.Fields, amazon.

“… the likely metaphor of the entire tale makes the book a treasure. Even the cover and pages trims follow the theme of something ancient and vital---suggesting far more than the story speaks aloud.” – Geni J. White, amazon.

“I finished the book and wanted to go white water rafting- the descriptions in the book make the river really desirable.” – Mary Barrett, amazon.

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"On a cool September Sunday in 1956, John Clarke woke up at daybreak wanting to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors. Being a single father, and not having arranged care for his four year old son Gabriel that day, he decided to take the little guy on a hike into the Firewater Gorge at the river... What happened that morning would change the arc of Gabriel's life for ever and send him on a journey of self-discovery. Thanks to The River, Gabriel took hold of he was to become, not who he had been." (Publisher's fly leaf text)


*SPOILER ALERT* Information given here might take away the mystery of the unread book, diminishing excitement of its discovery. If you want to uncover the metaphor for yourself, I recommend that you read the book before returning to read my analysis.

Titled ‘The River’, this novel centres around Gabriel Clarke and his interactions with ‘The River’. First things first - to my knowledge, there are no abstract metaphors attached to Gabriel - it’s possible to find yourself in Gabriel’s shoes at times, but he is not meant to be representative of the stereotypical man.

The metaphor largely surrounds The River. The novel is primarily concerned with Gabriel Clarke and his relation to The River - in his early life as something scary or terrifying, a perception that will undergo change and transformation later.

As readers, your greatest insight into what The River represents comes through the journal entries of Gabriel’s father and grandfather that he reads, before writing some of his own. These describe the characteristics of The River, the ways in which you might respond to it, and the lessons it can teach.

The author makes it fairly clear that The River represents God. One criticism of the novel is that if the author was entirely anonymous, it would be difficult to justify The River as representing the God of Christianity specifically. However, as we know that Michael Neale is himself a Christian and a former worship leader, we can be fairly sure that his metaphor relates to the Father God.

Here is an excerpt from the aforementioned journal entries, in this case,written by Gabriel’s father, John: “One of my favourite things is introducing first-timers to the beauty of The River. I’ll never understand why some people choose not to connect. One man in my raft could focus only on what he left behind. He didn’t seem to want to be here. He said he had too much to do, and he was here only because his wife wanted him to come. Even though he was here, he missed it all - the beauty, the joy, the laughter, and the excitement. I hope he comes back to The River someday.” - Pete Harrison



Presented as the weather-beaten, long lost journal that holds the key his restoration, The River shares with you the progress of modern day pilgrim, Gabriel Clarke. Angered and embittered by the apparently futile loss of his father to the might of The River, Gabriel’s journey of restoration leads you toward a true understanding of his father’s sacrifice, a new relationship the beauty and power of The River and the discovery that his true self worth and identity is inextricably bound to its timeless flow.

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Details for The River

Author / Artist
Book FormatPaperback
PublisherThomas Nelson (September 2012)
Intro ByMichael Neale
Number of Pages320
Thickness25 mm
Height211 mm
Width132 mm
Product Code4048753
Page last updated 16th February 2019
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