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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
Medicine River
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on October 24, 2016
Read this book for my incredibly entertaining (though quite challenging) ‘‘Representations of Family’’ English class. I loved how it helped me learn more about indigenous peoples, while thoroughly and interestingly exploring the theme of family, since we often mention them in my ‘‘Introduction to World Religions’’ class.
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on November 23, 2015
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on March 9, 2016
One of my favorite books!
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on December 14, 2000
This title was my second foray into the realm of King's writing, and I found it to be as rewarding as the first (his latest novel, Truth and Bright Water - another superb read).
Medicine River is the story of Will and his best friend Harlen, and a cast of other lovable, hilarious characters as they go about their day-to-day life. There is intrigue and gossip, speculation and antics, all true to form for any typical nuclear community. The book's dialogue is superb - and laugh-out-loud funny. The reader will embrace Harlen's quirky views with glee and will sigh right along with Will, as he diligently works to get Harlen around to the punchline. Wonderful exchanges.
King has an incredible gift - it's that of showcasing the heartbreak of life against the backdrop of humour, and he does it with style, class, and ingenuity. He continues this fine tradition in Medicine River. The plight and struggle of the Native community is seen through Will's recollections of growing up fatherless. He spells out the hardships his mother endured while trying to raise him and his younger brother on her own. The story of many souls across the land, and King - through Will - has done a class act job portraying the depths of experience. The healing balm in Thomas's writings is, of course, laughter and humour, and you'll get lots of that in this novel.
The New York Times said of this book, "Precise and elegant... a most satisfying read." I'm in full agreement. An excellent book and worthy of a spot of your bookshelf. I highly recommend it.
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on November 2, 2000
This story, told in typical native style, is about Will finding his "family" or relations. I found the novel to be most enjoyable and true to the human condition. As King said, "tragedy is the topic, comedy is the strategy."
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on July 10, 1998
This book is one of the reasons that I never regret going to university, and why I'd like to thank Dr Laura Peters for including it on her Canadian Literature Course. It's brilliance lies in the fact that on the one hand it is easy to read, enjoyable and light fiction; whilst on the other hand it is a complex novel of modernity, identity and history. Bring what you will to the novel, and take what you want from it - but you will come away from the book feeling better for the experience of reading it
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on September 17, 2007
This novel ticks a lot of boxes, so it's found a permanent place on most first-year English courses. That said, King is a fine storyteller and creates many compelling images. I've enjoyed reading and teaching this book. If you're looking for a diverting but not mindless read, this book is highly recommended.
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on April 23, 2002
Set in Alberta, Canada, it's a loving, wryly funny portrait of the fictional inhabitants of Medicine River. With the gentlest of pens that belies the pathos beneath, the lives of native americans are opened. I will read more by him.
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on January 15, 2002
His novel is a clevery writing comedy in which the protagoninst, Will, is comfronted with many problems. Most of his hardships sprout from his fatherless childhood, and his lack of continuity and family as a child. Though Will's journey is not completed within the course of the novel, the reader gets a great sence of hope from his slow migration towards continuity.
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on March 3, 2013
After his mother passes away, Will decides to return home to Medicine River, Alberta. Once there he meets up again with Harlen Bigbear and his life is never the same.

Harlen knows everyone and doesn't mind adding his helpful suggestions in any situation. He introduces Will to all his relations on the reserve as well as dozens of others. Harlen is not content to sit back and watch others live their lives, he wants to be part of them, he wants to help. This gets Will involved with many more members of the community. It doesn't take long for Will to become an integral part of the society.

Mr. King has a wonderful story telling ability. He takes ordinary, everyday events and turns them into occasions. When Will and Harlen are looking for a gift for South Wing, they could have driven straight to Martha Oldcrow's. But no, add the adventure of going off roading, stripping and wading across the river, and now you have a story worth repeating for generations. Did I forget about Will dunking Harlen?

My favourite part of the novel occurs when Harlen convinces Will to offer a "special" for family portraits. When he agrees to do Joyce Blue Horn's family photo, he's figuring on wife, husband and kids. By the time the Shoot is completed it has included an excursion to the river where the 50+family members, including the newly "adopted to the family" Will. I can just imagine the conversation and how this simple photo steam rolled into such an event.

Interesting story telling technique Mr. King didn't go beginning to end, rather he jumped all around. Giving little tidbits that left me hungering for more. It's hard to put down a book that keeps teasing you with little details.
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