Rock Needs River

My memoir, ROCK NEEDS RIVER is available at pretty much any bookstore you can think of, including Amazon, Target, and Barnes & Noble. There’s also an audio version!

Request a signed hardcover copy ($25 + shipping)

I have a book! This amazes me.


  • The Atlantic had a beautifully nuanced and thoughtful review: “McGrady’s adoption story is rare and important … Rock Needs River reminds the reader that although open adoption is often characterized nowadays as the enlightened, humane way to adopt a child, it can come with its own complications.”
  • Included in the Washington Post’s 10 Books to Read in February: “Adoptions in the United States were once conducted with sealed files and sealed lips. Some have gotten much more open, but Vanessa McGrady took it to a different level when she invited the homeless biological parents of her adopted daughter to live with her. Nothing went according to plan, and McGrady chronicles her non-fairy-tale path to parenthood with uncommon candor.” 
  • Here’s a gorgeous review in the New York Journal of Books: “She is ceaselessly generous and courageous in giving voice and tone and texture to each of the main people in this story. This is a book about McGrady’s abiding devotion to her daughter, ‘the greatest love of my life,’ and, as such, is a joyous journey to experience with her.”
  • I had the great pleasure to be on August McLaughlin’s Girl Boner Radio podcast.
  • So much fun to do Traci Thomas’ The Stacks podcast. She’s such a cool and fun and smart interviewer. We also talked about Nicole Chung’s All You Can Ever Know the following week.
  • I loved talking to Barbara DeMarco-Barrett on KUCI’s Writers on Writing.
  • Bustle said: “Her memoir shares the complicated, compelling ride.” 
  • Kirkus Reviews said: “… The conversational tone makes the reader feel like a trusted friend … She offers interesting insight into the lives of those who adopt and those who give up a child for adoption, as well as the personal angst that goes along with such a decision. An expressive and love-filled tale of a unique adoption scenario.” 
  • Publisher’s Weekly said: “… McGrady’s memoir is a touching and honest adoption story.” 
  • CBC Out in the Open (Canadian radio): It was hard. ‘Til this day, I wonder what I should have done differently, what boundaries should I have drawn? What could I have done to make it right?” McGrady wondered. But she also said she had to remind herself she’s Grace’s parent, not theirs.
  • Sunshine Shed said: “She’s a fiercely loving and protective mother, which redeems the more complicated, flawed, and frustrating parts of herself that she puts forth in this book.” 
  • Fun video interview with Michelle Dunton of Writing Fun. She’s so gracious!
  • An excerpt in Salon
  • Book Q & As with Deborah Kalb
  • Loved talking to Hank Garner on his Author Stories podcast about being a writer
  • Featured in my hometown paper (and former workplace!) The Peninsula Daily News.
Read (or leave!) reviews on Goodreads

For interview requests and review copies, please contact Nicole Dewey or Lucy Silag.


Tour Stops for Vanessa McGrady’s ROCK NEEDS RIVER

Saturday, February 2 | Glendale, CA | Glendale Public Library, 2:00 p.m.

Friday, February 8 | Port Townsend, WA| Phosphene, 6:00 p.m. CANCELED DUE TO SNOW STORM

Saturday, February 9 | Seattle, WA | Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, 6:00 p.m. CANCELED DUE TO SNOW STORM

Thursday, February 21 | New York, NY | Shakespeare & Co., 939 Lexington Ave., 6:30 p.m.

Friday, March 22 | Seattle, WA | Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, 6:00 p.m.

Friday, May 10| Los Angeles |“Memoir TMI: Brutal Honesty, Embarrassing Transgressions and Why We Do This” with Don Cummings (Bent But Not Broken, A Memoir), hosted by Royal Young | Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA, 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, May 11th & 12th | Minneapolis, MN | Wordplay Book Festival
Vanessa McGradyRock Needs River