Big Two-Hearted River by Ernest Hemingway

big two hearted river book cover

Rating: 4/5

What It’s About:

Emotionally wounded and disillusioned by World War I, Nick Adams returns to his home and leaves for the north Michigan woods on a camping trip. He leaves by himself, hoping that the routine of selecting a good place to camp, setting up a tent, fixing meals, and preparing for fishing will restore peace and a sense of balance to his traumatized soul.


Thank you to Mariner Books and Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Review

Big Two-Hearted River felt like taking a breath of crisp and fresh air in the morning. After spending time reading some books with gruesome topics, this short story was a peaceful cleanse to my soul. I would recommend reading the short story first and then reading the foreword after. I got to enjoy the story with my own perspective first, and then revisited it from a more critical point of view.

If I could describe Big-Two Hearted River, I would say it is about the healing power of being in nature and solitude. The descriptions of the scenery and unembellished tasks of camping made me want to go out for a hike. There is just something about being in a quiet place separated from the busy world that just makes all life’s worries fall away. At least that’s how I feel whenever I go for a hike, so I could relate to Nick’s experience of going on a camping trip by himself.

Considering that Nick is a WWI veteran returning home, the story is much more impactful. After experiencing so much violence, death and noise, I would imagine that there is alot of mental hardship that Nick is suffering from. This trip probably helped him stop thinking about his trauma and focus on being present in the moment. The moments that directly pointed out that Nick felt happy, and that he hadn’t felt unhappy in all day, tugged at my heartstrings. It made me wonder what kind of mental or emotional state he must have been in before.

Final thoughts

Big Two-Hearted River is a wonderful story and I valued Hemingway’s minimalistic style of writing. I picked up this book at exactly the right time in my life. It made me slow down in my busy life and appreciate the small things around me. The modest illustrations of this edition also added another layer of beauty to experience.


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