The Turtle Warrior
Mary Relindes Ellis
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The Turtle Warrior

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  442 ratings  ·  79 reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
A remarkably assured and moving first novel, The Turtle Warrior marks the exciting debut of Wisconsin writer Mary Relindes Ellis. Set in the brutally cold and hard northern Wisconsin, the area Ellis herself is from, The Turtle Warrior tells the story of two neighboring farms and their broken families over two generations. The Lucases have two s...more
Hardcover, 0 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by Turtleback Books (first published January 19th 2004)
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Barbara Stoner
If breaking my leg last May accomplished nothing else, it has left me with a summer's worth of reading to report on in the Bookhouse. One of these is The Turtle Warrior, by Mary Relindes Ellis, sent to me by my friend Bonnie.

It's set in northern Wisconsin, familiar territory for me. I know those poor farms, that stony land, old barns with outdated, broken down machinery. I know the lure of the woods, the quiet depth of snow. Settling into The Turtle Warrior was, in some ways, like going home.

Doug Lambeth
I try not to get too gooey about books, but I'll make an exception for "The Turtle Warrior". Utterly amazing...beautiful, heartbreaking, grim (very grim, actually). It's fantastic. I love the shifting voices and POV's, and even though I've never been to Northern Wisconsin, I could smell the smells, feel the air, see the light...everything about this book was captivating and moving. Beautifully written...
Kelley Thomas
This book lingered with me for awhile after I finished it. It deals with difficult subjects for sure, but is well written and thought provoking.
Cheryl S.
Very close to 5 stars for me. Hurts your heart, but makes you cheer, couldn't put it down.
Amy Russell
Heartbreaking but beautifully written. A little boy who survives awful abuse.
Lyl Lyl
This was like reading the potential for a good book, instead of a good book.
I had trouble with this book for a couple reasons.
Firstly, it is trying to put out there the tragedy of abuse, but it also is a giant rant about Vietnam, and that undertones everything in the book. Instead of a tangible read about an abused family, it is a revolving door of anti war raging, and how it, and the patriarch system, are the cause of all grief and abuse, the root source of it all, which is so incredibly gener...more
Blake Bowers

This book kind of skipped around from different time periods and revolves around 4 different characters who are telling their story in first person, if you're a "skip reader", like my wife is, you will have a very hard time understanding what is going on in the book. There is a small part of the book involving child abuse which I really did not care for, but in hindsight was prob...more
Paula Dembeck
It is 1967 in the small rural town of Oline, Northern Wisconsin. The Lucas family's small farm is in disrepair. Lucas, a mean alcoholic father of two sons, James and Billy hovers over his family with brutish anger and promised violence.

James escapes by signing up with the marines and goes to Vietnam. Bill is left to protect himself and his mother Clare against the drunken rages of his father. A neighbouring family, Rosemary and Ernie Morriseau try to help as best they can, but their offers are p...more
Christian Emmanuel
A story about a tragic rural life in Wisconsin and the experiences surrounding an alcoholic father.The story is told in different perspectives of the characters although mainly through Billy the second son. It is set on the Vietnam war period where the eldest son Jimmy dies.The story is a little bit slow in the middle half of the book. However it does get better with a "perks of being a wallflower" type of shock. It is a story of redemption, second chances, love and starting over.
Christy Sibila
I am not usually one to read "the book of the moment", but I was intrigued by The Turtle Warrior. Initially, I was disappointed. Yet another book about the effects of the Vietnam War on its "survivors", a drunken, abusive father, and a crazy mother living in the backwoods? Haven't these themes been explored in unison, like, a zillion times before? However, Ellis' use of multiple narrators, including the voice of a dead soldier, gives these well-worn subjects new depth. It would have been fascina...more
This novel, used when I got it, is signed by the author. Thus, I would have a very hard time giving it away. I would like to give it away. I don't know whether to give it one star or five.

It is filled with horror. Worse than explicit true crime. First, a turtle is tortured by some boys, and I could hardly stand it. Then there are the Vietnam war stories, awful awful. Then a boy in an abusive family.

None of it is unreal. That's why it's so very VERY hard to read. Don't get it if you feel like re...more
A haunting book with horrific abuse. Well written; explores the depths of wars and their emotional/physical wounds from WWII to Vietnam. Although the abuse (both animal and human) is painful to read, Ellis' descriptions are authentic. A book that will stay with you.
I had no expectations for this but ended up really enjoying it. The book had a difference voice / narrator and surprised me several different times. Not as predictable as most books in it's category.
I had to set this book down and pick up something else. It's pretty heavy! Be sure to read when you're not too emotional :P Great writing though!
Stacy Natal
Jan 18, 2012 Stacy Natal rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stacy by: Patrick Andrus
Shelves: good-fiction
This is one of those books in which the story is told from the viewpoint of many of the characters in the story (like The Help). I always like books like that, and this one was no exception. It’s a moving and often depressing story that sensitively portrays the multi-generational effects of war and abuse. Yet, the book leaves one feeling the strength of the characters. The setting is northern Wisconsin during the Vietnam War, and the story is about a family whose eldest son goes off to war. The...more
Jim C
A book about a family dealing with an abusive, drunk father. This book's timeline starts at the Vietnam war and flashforwards many years as we see how the characters deal with their hardships. At different times in this book, we have different points of view from all the characters so the reader gets a first hand account of their situation. I enjoyed this way of telling a story and my rating is more 3.5 stars. This is not my typical kind of book as it is a very emotional book and dramatic. That...more
If you can get past the animal abuse, it's a great book.
Un depaysement, une famille déchirée , une belle écriture. Une surprise inattendue que cette lecture!
Melissa Lee-tammeus
This book was mesmerizing in a way that is hard to describe. It tells the story of two farm families amidst the Vietnam war and the inner battles faced within the relationships. The two brothers are the heart of the story - how they survive an abusive home is delivered in a beautiful haunting manner. It is one of those books that lets you decide what truly happened - did the brother haunt those woods after he died or was it the psychological pain that those he left behind felt? A beautiful, sad,...more
I can't express how much I loved this book. I found it randomly at Powell's and after reading the reviews on the back, decided to give it a try. This book is so beautifully written and I couldn't put it down. She created such memorable characters that I will not soon forget. I loved every minute of it, even though it was heart-wrenchingly difficult to read at times, it was also endearing and tender as well. It's a wonderfully crafted story. Loved it, loved it.
I liked the book. It is different from what I usually read. What Billy's father did just made me so mad. I was mad his mom for not doing anything about it. I've never felt so angry toward a character in a book before.

It was cool that it took place in Wisconsin and had some reference to Wisconsin towns and lakes.

It started out a little slow but then got really good about a third of the way through. I would recommend it.
I gave it about 50 pages before giving up on it. I can only take so much animal abuse until I get turned off a book - but I kept trying it anyway. It didn't seem to be going anywhere and it was bleak and depressing without a real plotline to follow. It just seemed jumbled up into a story featuring random occurences. I don't know, maybe it would have gotten better if I stuck with it, but I have too many books to read and not enough time!
I thought this book did a great job in addressing many of the the present effects and aftershocks of child/spouse abuse. Yet, there are several very graphic sections accompanied by choice language. For me, everything was fitting to the situations written about--as a professional counselor, I hear these these issues on a near daily basis. Simply put, if you want your emotions manipulated, it's a good read. If not, then...
This is a heart-wrenching survival story about two young boys growing up with an abusive father and a troubled mother. The story takes place in Northern Wisconsin but also takes the reader to the battlefields of Vietnam and World War II. You really get involved with each person as the story is told from the view points of all the main characters. I found The Turtle Warrior to be sad but hopeful at the same time.
This is the story of two brothers, ten years apart in age, and how they deal with the effects of an unloving, abusive drunken father. The older brother enlists in the marines during the height of the Vietnam war leaving the younger brother behind on the family farm in northern Wisconsin. Although sometimes disturbing and unsettling the book winds to a satisfactory ending.
Amazing. An absolutely must read. You'll never forget this boy, or his family and neighbors.
Mary Jane
set in northern Wisconsin, this book is a sleeper--gradually I really wanted to know about the characters. The Vietnam War setting, the alcoholic/abusive family, and the small town interactions were skillfully woven throughout the tale. The only false note was the final chapter, a kind of happy ending appendix that moved too quickly and too happily.
This is an incredible first novel by a wonderful writer (who has also become a friend!). The setting is Wisconsin during the Vietnam War and the story of a family, whose oldest son goes off to war and the youngest son is left at home to deal with an terrible father, a trapped mother, and absolutely wonderful native American next door neighbors.
A very tough book for me to read as it brought back hard memories. I empathize with Lucas as we've shared similar experiences. The friend he makes later on in the story was a bit predictable, but still makes an interesting plot point. Few scenes are not for the faint of heart, but the emotive capability of the author is fantastic.
Cindy Dowson
This book was a difficult one to read because of the depth and breadth of pain experienced by so many of the characters. It is definitely not a "feel good" book, but a story about the complex reality of abuse, pain, addiction and loss. I enjoyed having multiple narrators as I believe it gives a deeper look into each person.
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Mary Relindes Ellis was born in Glidden, Wisconsin. After attending a business school to obtain certification as a legal secretary, Ellis then went on to get a B.A. in English Literature with an emphasis on minority and women’s literature. Throughout her life she has worked at a number of positions: cleaning cabins at an upscale resort; assisting her mother, who was a public health nurse; working...more
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