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Description - Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

Fifteen years after the death of their patriarch Xavier, the Bird Clan finds itself struggling to survive on the hardscrabble reservation they call home. On Christmas Day, the youngest of the clan, a beautiful young woman called Suzanne leaves by snowmobile with her boyfriend Gus Netmaker, against both families' wishes, hoping to find purpose and a better life in Toronto. When word from Suzanne and Gus suddenly ceases, the Netmakers and Birds fear the worst and tensions between the two families escalate to violent levels. Suzanne's sister Annie, a loner and a hunter, decides to leave home for the very first time to search for them, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss. While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modeling studios to A-list parties, Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family. THROUGH BLACK SPRUCE paints aboriginal life in a contemporary world, full of the dangers, desperation and harsh beauty of both the forest and the city. It's an utterly unforgettable consideration of the search for identity and the strength of family love.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780297848417
ISBN-10: 0297848410
Format: Hardback
(241mm x 158mm x 31mm)
Pages: 368
Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 12-Mar-2009
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

US Kirkus Review » A vigorous picture of life near "James Bay in the Arctic Lowlands of Ontario" distinguishes this second novel from the Canadian-born author (Three Day Road, 2005).The book, which was awarded Canada's prestigious Giller Prize, begins unevenly, with a setup much too reminiscent of Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient: a history "dreamed" by Cree Indian bush pilot Will Bird, as he lies comatose in a hospital bed, and juxtaposed with the story recalled by Will's niece Annie, keeping a vigil beside him, of her southward journey to seek her missing younger sister Suzanne, a runaway who became a successful fashion model and "party girl." Boyden ends it even more awkwardly, with a semi-surprising disclosure about a crime that still pursues Will, and a concluding reconciliation that's improbable and sentimental. Between these extremes, the book is frequently energized by visionary splendor and raw emotional force. Annie is a fantastically observed character. A tough, vibrant woman, she's sustained by an increasingly loving relationship with her withdrawn "protector" Gordon and is unafraid to enter the worlds of narcotic and sexual excess that appear to have claimed Suzanne. Alas, the Manhattan scenes too often read like inert chick lit. Fortunately, the story is redeemed by Boyden's rich portrayal of the stoical Will, most fully realized in a subtly fragmented account of Will's arduous stay on a remote island (Akimiski), where wind and weather stalk him as relentlessly as do his old enemies - and his only companions are an elderly settler couple who seem to possess an almost mystical knowledge of his history, marauding polar bears and, in a brilliantly resonating image, a whale skeleton that washed up out of the bay.Though the forced, contrived plot almost submerges the novel, the sensuous apprehension of a distant, perilous, ineffably beautiful world draws us in and won't let us go. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Joseph Boyden

Joseph Boyden is a Canadian with Irish, Scottish, and Metis roots. His first novel, THREE DAY ROAD, has been published in ten languages. It was shortlisted for the Governor Generals Award for Fiction. He divides his time between Northern Ontario and Louisiana, where he teaches writing at the University of New Orleans.

Books By Joseph Boyden

Riverton Rifle by Joseph Boyden
Hardback, November 2015
Orenda by Joseph Boyden
Paperback / softback, February 2015
Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden
Paperback / softback, February 2010
Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
Paperback, April 2006