Publisher's synopsis

A memorable YA novel about the tough and tender sides of growing up in a small country town. Fourteen-year-old Harry has a knack for wriggling out of trouble, but escaping the constraints and memories that keep him trapped is not so easy, until it’s a matter of life or death.

The big river rolls past our town, takes a slow look and rolls away.

Life for Harry means swimming in Pearce Swamp, eating chunks of watermelon with his brother and his dad, surviving schoolyard battles, and racing through butterflies in Cowpers Paddock. In his town there’s Linda, who brings him the sweetest-ever orange cake, and Johnny, whose lightning fists draw blood in a blur, and there’s a mystery that Harry needs to solve before he can find a way out.

By the River is about the feeling the undercurrents, finding solid ground and knowing when to make a leap.

Steven Herrick writes straight from the heart.


  • Winner, NSW Premier’s Literary Award, Ethel Turner Prize for Books for Young Adults, 2005
  • Commended, CBCA Book of the Year Award, Older Readers, 2005
  • Winner, Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Award, Older Readers, 2005
  • Winner, Outstanding International Books List of USBBY and the CBC, 2007