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Through Black Spruce Hardcover – Sep 9 2008


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Through Black Spruce + Three Day Road + The Orenda
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Canada; 1st Edition edition (Sept. 9 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670063630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670063635
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Through Black Spruce is an arresting novel with unexpected twists and turns. It's also an important contribution to the Native literary voice in this country." -- Tomson Highway, author of Kiss of the Fur Queen

"Joseph Boyden achieves a beautiful balance between his characters and nature, between the hardships of contemporary life and their strong connection to the past." -- Nino Ricci, Author of The Origin of Species and Testament

Review

"Joseph Boyden achieves a beautiful balance between his characters and nature, between the hardships of contemporary life and their strong connection to the past."

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By John E. Knight on Oct. 19 2008
Format: Hardcover
In reading "Through Black Spruce", I found myself intrigued as much with author Joseph Boyden's writing style as with the story itself. The book slapped me with some confusion in the first three chapters, as I realized that Boyden was using a double narrative style, and the majority of the book alternated between the primary narrator - bush pilot and Cree native, Will Bird and then the other narrator his niece, Annie Bird. The style is an effective method of telling two separate stories of individuals struggling to find their identities - Will the Uncle straddling his life between the traditional ways of the Cree - living off the land and a today's world which seems to be full of personal problems.I am struck by Will the hard-drinker and endless smoker who also is a jogger, and the hunter who also becomes friends with an old black bear. Annie becomes engaged in two extreme living worlds - one the one hand a tomboy who is a skilled trapper, and on the other hand a short stint in the life of being a supermodel. The two narratives have common touch points, and the reader begins to sense the final convergence early, which unfortunately becomes predictable before the end of the story.

Nevertheless, an excellent book, a learning experience about the Canadian northern region around James Bay and the people who live there.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Dec 2 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a complex and colorful tale that deals with the incredible struggles of a First Nations family's attempts to become reconciled after years of living apart and suffering alone. The novel's main setting encompasses the wilds of northern Ontario where a family has grown up learning to survive by living off the land. As they reach adulthood, the pull of the urban south enters their lives and the family draws apart.The story picks up when an uncle and niece eventually reconnect under very strange and tragic circumstances. The uncle, Willie Bird, is in a deep coma and at possibly at death's door because of a serious plane crash while the niece, Annie Bird, has come home from her desperate search for a future in her missing sister in the jungles of the big bad city. The only tangible connection between the two is through a poignantly silent drawing together of their individual stories as inner emotions and hurts pass through their clutching hands at they come together at the uncle's bedside. Guilt is cleansed and the true spiritual essence of who they are as kith and kin emerges. Everything in this novel is a revisiting of the formative events of their respective pasts as the Willie and Annie draw close to each other in a transcending spiritual bond. Boyden is especially effective in mapping out the journey that native people take from their roots in the wilderness to the fleshpots of the big city in search of an ever-elusive identity. As they talk within themselves, the images of a sordid and unhappy past flash up on the big screen of life and disappear. The reader gets to see what really causes extended families like the Birds to be uprooted and then to come together later in life as only a shadow of their former self.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Macdonald on March 14 2009
Format: Hardcover
Beginning with Three Day Road set during the era of WWI, the story of the Bird family continues in the modern day. It is remarkable how the author, Joseph Boyden, managed to weave the old with the new, taking the descendants of Xavier and his auntie, Niska into the reality of modern Cree, and human, life. Through the author's choice of language and circumstance we are immediately transformed from the past to the present, a jump not easily taken at first, but growing on you as you read. I don't know how this story plays out for the average reader, but for those of us familiar with the Cree: Elders and culture, drugs and hopelessness, dreams and reality: this story, coming from a Metis, is touched with genius and artistry. I don't know what he will do for the third story of the trilogy and it will be difficult to wait! For now, enjoy the travel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lorina Stephens TOP 500 REVIEWER on Jan. 16 2011
Format: Hardcover
To read Joseph Boyden's Through Black Spruce is to peer through a window into a quintessentially Canadian, and poignantly Northern Ontarian world. The novel, which explores human descent into revenge, violence and brutality, illuminates the rich and often desperate lives of the Cree and Ojibwa nations who, against all predations, still pursue traditions and lifestyles that in the end are their salvation and legacy.

The voice Boyden's uses is stark, simple, elegantly First Nations, and because of that acts as a sharp foil to the darker, convoluted story that is told through the dual voices of Annie and Will Bird. Each of them attempt to rescue the other through their stories and through the raw honesty of their experiences. In some ways, the dual-narrative acts as confessional, so that the reader understands that beyond the sharp edges of their actions, and the crimes committed by and upon them, there is in fact the mitigating grey of justice no court of law can assess.

Through all of this is a high-strung, fever pitch tension that nearly screams at you to flick to the next page and the next, so that you find yourself breathless and anxious, dare I say it, even obsessed by the haunting quality of this story.

More than deserving of the Giller Prize, Through Black Spruce is an excellent read, and worthy of the investment of time and emotion.
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