Cheat River

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Film, Theatre & Communication Arts


Film, Theatre, and Communication Arts

Major Professor

Lavender, William

Second Advisor

Boyden, Amanda

Third Advisor

Boyden Joseph


Cheat River is a novel about balancing family obligations against self-preservation. That is what's at stake for Allison and Andrew McKenna, a pair of siblings in rural Appalachia who must endure their father's abandonment and their pregnant mother's breakdown. At first, the two find solace from their parents' problems on the banks of the river from which the novel takes its name. But eventually, Andrew's homosexual feelings drive him to the bohemian streets of Philadelphia in the early '90s where he falls in with political activists and a household of misfits. He disappears, and Allison comes to the city to look for him. By retracing her brother's life, she realizes not only what he meant to her but what it will take to survive on her own.


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