Monday, January 25, 2010

4 Books . . .

Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce both by Joseph Boyden

Boyden is an amazing storyteller much like the aboriginal characters in his books as they pass on the stories of their culture and their lives. I read both books back-to-back and could hardly put them down, although I found it difficult to read the endlessly gruesome front-line scenes of WWI in Three Day Road. The writing and flow of the story and the hope that Xavier would respond to his aunt Niska's tender ministering upon his return to the Northern Ontario bush kept me captivated.

Through Black Spruce takes place in the present day and is a loose continuation of Three Day Road but stands on it's own perfectly well. Through Black Spruce is the story of a young Native woman, Annie Bird, and her uncle Will as he lies in a coma in a Northern Ontario hospital. Annie visits him regularly and sits by his bedside telling him stories about her life and her search for her missing sister Suzanne. The chapters change perspective from Annie's to Will's voice as he 'speaks' to Annie by way of inner monologue telling her about their families and his life as a bush pilot around the wilderness of James Bay and its towns of Moose Factory and Moosonee.

I loved this book. I loved reading about the harsh life in the bush; I loved the sense of belonging and family within the Cree community; I loved Annie's feisty independence; and I loved Will as the flawed but sweet uncle to his two nieces.

Both books were very good. When can I pre-order Boyden's third book??

Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens

I'm a little on the fence with this one. It's not that there were two stories in one, many of the previous books I loved are like that, it's that I really only wanted to read the present-time story about five-year-old Sharla and her relationship with the grandmotherly neighbor, Addy. But the endlessly detailed history of Addy's life was melodramatic to the point of being unbelievable. She had a hard life - okay, we get it. What I did like was the interactions between Sharla and Addy and between Sharla and her friends. I couldn't help but smile at her five-year-old perspective on things.

This book? So-so. The ending was predictably weepy.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

A 90-something nursing home resident remembers his younger years as a circus animal handler during the Depression. The perspective changes back and forth throughout the book between that of his younger self and that of his present older self. A sweet, funny, touching story.


Beth said...

I loved Water for Elephants and Three Day Road. Through Black Spruce is in my To Read pile & I think I'll give Rush Road Home a try.

(great reviews!)

trish said...

Yes give them a try. Let me know if you ever review them - it would be fun to hear your opinion.