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The Raven's Gift [Paperback]

Don Rearden
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 25.00
Price: CDN$ 15.68 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Jan. 25 2011
John Morgan and his wife can barely contain their excitement upon arriving as the new teachers in a Yup’ik Eskimo village on the Alaskan tundra. Lured north in search of adventure, the couple hope to immerse themselves in the ancient Arctic culture. But their move proves disastrous when a deadly epidemic strikes and the isolated tundra community descends into total chaos. When outside help fails to arrive, John’s only hope lies in escaping. His thousand-mile trek across the Alaskan wilderness grows more improbable when he encounters a blind Eskimo girl and an elderly woman. The two need his protection from those who would harm them, and he needs their knowledge of the terrain and their companionship to survive. The harsh journey and constant danger push him beyond his limits as he discovers a new sense of hope and the possibility of loving again.

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Review

“An epic adventure, a work of mythical dimensions, never to be forgotten.” - Daniel Quinn

“The Raven’s Gift has a winning plot, characters we’ve never met before, and intriguing details of a world most of us will never venture to—creating a read that opens our eyes and finds the fault lines of a heart in one breathless sitting.” - Jodi Picoult

From the Publisher

A gripping apocalyptic novel with a social conscience.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Raven's Gift April 3 2011
Format:Paperback
See Caleb Conley's review. I found it to be very succinct.

I basically read Don Rearden's book in 2 sittings. 196 pages the first day (I was travelling) and the next 70 or so on another day. I found his book to be incredibly compelling in that I got so involved in the story on my first day, that I found myself thinking about it day after day until I finished it. And now, I am still drawn to it's many facets: a culture caught between the traditional Yup'ik and the Anglo-American, love, facing your fears, social issues rooted in our limited natural resources, and the list continues.

The short of it is that I want so many people to read The Rave's Gift, but I can only buy so many on my public school teacher's salary. Don's story will make you think, keep you thinking, and give you new insight into what you value (especially in terms of "our" children), while learning about the culture of the Yup'ik Eskimo of rural Alaska.

If you choose to buy one, buy at least 2, because you may find yourself placing multiple orders;) I am on my 2nd order, still thinking that I should've ordered more. Either way, buy at least one. It is a book unlike any other.
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5.0 out of 5 stars On my list of top three novels of Alaska March 27 2011
Format:Paperback
This is one of my favorite novels set in Alaska. It's also on my top favorites list for any novel set anywhere in the world. It's a scary, atmospheric and unpredictable thriller, while a gritty, realistic look at the modern Arctic in all its beauty, complexity and horror.

The non-Native Rearden delves with empathy and respect into the Native Yup'ik culture, his roots in the region and deep knowledge of the subsistence or village life showing strong. He juggles his diverse cast of indigenous and outsider characters deftly, with humor and pathos. I loved the underlying "conspiracies", the skillful weaving of history lessons, supernatural lore, the onset of winter and graphic details from the point of view of naive schoolteachers. These threads add to the creeping sense of menace that kept me awake all night reading.

But don't worry; there is hope and faith and love in with all the darkness. If I lend this book out (everybody wants to borrow it, I talk so much about it) please return it; it's a keeper.

~ Lesley Thomas, Alaskan author of Flight of the Goose
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended Feb. 1 2011
Format:Paperback
This book will be enjoyed by those who know and/or have an interest in rural Alaska. It's the real deal, not Hollywood AK. The characters and places are true to the YK delta, but the appeal of "The Raven's Gift" goes far beyond the authentic syntax of its voice. It is, before all else, an engaging mystery. The author cycles through multiple chopped and embedded timelines while deftly revealing just enough information along the way to propel the reader onward. Here is a book which knows how not to say more, allowing us the satisfaction of puzzling out whodunnit and what "it" even is. If we gain something more from this thriller (and we definitely do) it's because good teachers know to make learning fun.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real People Jan. 30 2011
Format:Paperback
There is no other work of literature that captures the spirit of life in modern day Alaska like Rearden's The Raven's Gift. His vivid images of the humble life capture details that only someone raised in this world could elucidate'from the language to the honey buckets.

In the story, we follow a cast of survivors stranded in a post-apocalyptic landscape facing the most basic of moral dilemmas for survival. Ironically, the best answers seem to come from the long-suppressed tribalist beliefs of the Yup'ik culture'the same beliefs that allowed the people to survive the most uninhabitable place on earth for centuries. Perhaps this is why the people call themselves "Yup'ik"'or, as it translates "the real people." Wisely, Rearden paints an incomplete picture and forgoes explanation for pure experience.

Beyond just a story, his book becomes a platform for unearthing the many repressed conflicts afflicting Native Alaskan life'both external (climate change, the need for basic services) and internal (loss of culture, teen suicide).

If you're interested in knowing the real Alaska, skip the cruise and buy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Lost for Words March 1 2011
Format:Paperback
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Bronwyn from Penguin Canada for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 5/5

John and his wife, Anna, head north to the Alaskan tundra to teach and immerse themselves in the Yup'ik community and culture. They hope to find adventure along the way, but they could never have expected that they would encounter an epidemic that would decimate the Alaskan communities and ultimately prove fatal. With no help coming, the survivors must take things into their own hands if they have any chance of survival. An unlikely trio is formed when John meets up with a blind girl and an older woman, but the bonds they form are needed if they are to survive the perilous journey they must undertake.
I'm still at a loss for words to even begin to describe what I think of The Raven's Gift. It is definitely one of those books that will stick with you long after it is read. I can safely say that this book surprised me with how genuine it is. I found it to be a haunting and compelling read, and it honestly had me hooked from the very beginning. I couldn't put it down, and found that I savoured every page.
The Raven's Gift is told in three interwoven timelines, the first being when John and Anna apply to teach in the Yup'ik communities. The second and third are tied closely together as they both are written after the outbreak and they follow John on his journey with both the blind girl, Rayna, and the older woman, Maggie. A community that is already isolated as is, doesn't stand a chance when an epidemic of this stature is unleashed across it.
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