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Indian Horse

4.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,104 Ratings  ·  584 Reviews
Saul Indian Horse has hit bottom. His last binge almost killed him, and now he’s a reluctant resident in a treatment centre for alcoholics, surrounded by people he’s sure will never understand him. But Saul wants peace, and he grudgingly comes to see that he’ll find it only through telling his story. With him, readers embark on a journey back through the life he’s led as a ...more
Paperback, 221 pages
Published March 7th 2012 by Douglas & McIntyre (first published January 1st 2012)
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Indian Horse by Richard WagameseFebruary by Lisa MooreTwo Solitudes by Hugh MacLennanAway by Jane UrquhartThe Age of Hope by David Bergen
2013 Canada Reads
1st out of 5 books — 17 voters
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryLife of Pi by Yann MartelA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Best Canadian Literature
85th out of 843 books — 785 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nov 09, 2015 Ariel rated it it was amazing
This book was incredibly easy to read but dealt with incredibly difficult topics. I read it for my Canadian Literature course where we've discussed "imagined communities" the concept that the communities that we live in (cities, cultures, nations) are all just made up and perpetuated by successive peoples agreeing to continue that imagination. This is both good (it helps maintain tradition and culture) but also negative, because it can work as selective history in which important things can be i ...more
Harry Maier
Feb 16, 2013 Harry Maier rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for every Canadian. In its story of a survivor of residential schools it takes us through the harrowing experience of First Nations Children in a Manitoban school. In these schools literally tens of thousands children died from physical and sexual abuse, starvation, and treatable disease with the full awareness of the Canadian government. IN my opinion, crimes of this magnitude require nothing short of what Germany has done to take responsibility for the suff ...more
Apr 18, 2016 Tina rated it it was amazing
It was an honour to read “Indian Horse” by Richard Wagamese. As a reader who wants to encourage others to go out and get this important piece of work, I am breaking the rule about reviewers getting personal with the material. As I worked my way through the staggering story of Saul Indian Horse , there was an immediate flooding of memories...his and mine. I was a 6 year old Dutch immigrant who attended a Catholic school in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. At that time, there were Aboriginal children in my ...more
This coming of age tale captures some important truths about the hell that a lot of Indian kids went through in the residential school system in Canada, which according to the man who founded the first such school in Pennsylvania in 1879 were designed to “kill the Indian, save the man.” By forcibly taking children away from their families, banning use of their language and cultural practices, they were could theoretically be assimilated for their own good into white society. Instead, most had th ...more
Feb 03, 2015 Zoeytron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zoeytron by: Lynda
Saul Indian Horse is but eight years old when he is literally yanked from the arms of his grandmother and carted off to a church-run residential school. Racism is rampant, abuse out of control. Punishment is dire for any child foolish enough to run away, many were punished, some disappeared, others died. As he tries to make his way, an unexpected introduction to ice hockey ends up being the saving grace for Saul.

The writing is clean and simple, it reads very quickly, and tells a tale both heart
Apr 13, 2012 Pooker rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
April 2, 2012:

I begin this book with both eagerness and trepidation. The year is 1961. Saul Indian Horse, Indian boy, is 8 years old. I, little white girl, would have been 7. Inevitably, he and I would have crossed paths as we travelled in different circles over the same land and waters. His home. My home. He feared the residential school. I wanted to go there.

April 3, 2012:

It's true. I wanted to attend the Indian Residential School that my family drove past many, many times on the way to visit
Jan 29, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing
I love this quote from grandmother: "We need mystery," she said. "Creator in her wisdom knew this. Mystery fills us with awe and wonder. They are the foundations of humility, and humility, grandson, is the foundation of all learning. So we do not need to seek to unravel this. We honour it by letting it be that way forever." Pg. 65.

And this paragraph seems to sum up the residential school situation:
"When your innocence is stripped from you, when your people are denigrated, when the family you cam
Steven Langdon
Dec 19, 2012 Steven Langdon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: super
Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a dramatic effort to probe, reveal and help overcome the grim history of government confinement of aboriginal children to church-run Residential Schools over many years. This history is on one level hard to believe because it represents such a massive, appalling and coercive case of racist social engineering over a long time period, with inevitably devastating ongoing cultural consequences as it worked to extinguish the language and traditions of d ...more
Mar 01, 2013 Erin rated it really liked it
I’d heard of *Indian Horse* from CBC’s “Canada Reads” competition and from a few fellow readers who told me it was about residential schools and the crimes committed there. So I picked up the novel prepared to encounter a narrative of abuse and its reverberations across generations.

I suppose that feeling of preparation is indicative of my arrogance - my sense that ‘oh yes, i’ve heard about residential schools, I have leftist politics, I’ve been educated’ - as if a textbook could do justice (ha!
Jan 24, 2015 Krista rated it liked it
In The Autobiography Of Mark Twain, the author at one point explains the apparent contradiction of his kind hearted, Christian mother being a slave owner. He declares that his mother had heard a thousand sermons from the pulpit justifying slavery and never one against it-- the justification being that by stealing the Africans from their heathen homelands and exposing them to the good and God-fearing people of America (and other countries), the slaves would be offered the mercy and salvation of t ...more
Mar 10, 2013 Pam rated it liked it
The one thing I really enjoyed about this novel was also somewhat responsible for what I didn't like about this novel. I really enjoyed the unique perspective of reading about the residential school survival experience couched in the narrative of a boy who has a passion for hockey. I found this to be refreshing and unique and an excellent why to emphasize that these victims were children who had their own dreams. It also served as an excellent vehicle to explore the racism that the First Nations ...more
Jan 28, 2013 Chinook rated it it was amazing
They should teach this book in schools.

You know, I never would have come across this book. Living outside of Canada, if I do happen across a Canadian author among the used books, I have to have heard of them. Even if I'd picked the book up, I might not have been all that convinced by a book about hockey. And until this year Canada Reads was something I sort of vaguely recall hearing about that year I lived in Vancouver, but I knew almost nothing about it. But I can't go to a book signing and not
Jan 25, 2015 Mj rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2012
Richard Wagamese is a wonderful author. His writing is superb and you can see, smell and feel everything he writes about. His descriptions about nature and the outdoors are particularly outstanding. He always makes me feel like I am right there in the middle of the story.

This is the first book of fiction by Richard Wagamese that I have read - the other two were memoirs / autobiographical. I now know that the author is also a master of plot development. Indian Horse tells the story of residential
Lorina Stephens
Aug 15, 2013 Lorina Stephens rated it it was amazing
A CBC Canada Reads book, top 100 Globe and Mail listed, critically acclaimed, much discussed, Richard Wagamese's novel Indian Horse is deserving not only of accolades but your time. This is simply an excellent, fundamentally Canadian novel, beautifully and sparingly written, with grace, poise, banked passion and heartbreaking insight.

Although a work of fiction, Wagamese draws from the lives of people he has known and lost, and because of that resonates with much earlier works by other great auth
Cover Gushing Worthiness: The cover of Indian Horse truly captures the essence of this book. I think each image captures a specific point in Saul’s life. As you read the book, the cover starts to make more sense. It literally is so Canadian and in a good way :).

Review: I first heard about Indian Horse when I was in the car with my dad listening to CBC Radio's Canada Reads .As I heard an excerpt from the book I knew I wanted to read it. Ever since I was in High School I’ve been interested in th
Steve Bell
Feb 15, 2013 Steve Bell rated it really liked it
Oi... just turned the last page on this one; brutal and beautiful at once... both devastating and uplifting. The brilliance of the writing is how Richard Wagamese manages to tell a complex history and difficult story in a relatively short read. He never indulges unnecessarily in details of horrific events, but you feel them in your bones none-the-less.

The story delicately traces the life of Saul Indian Horse, a mystically inclined Ojibway boy whose life began in the last gasp of his line's trad
Farzana Doctor
Jul 04, 2013 Farzana Doctor rated it it was amazing
Just finished Richard Wagamese's beautiful novel, Indian Horse. A heart-breaking and heart-warming story about racism, residential schools, community, survival, growing up and hockey. Read it. ...more
Mar 04, 2016 Melanie rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 06, 2013 Indrani rated it it was amazing
Sometimes, an author gets too ambitious: he tries to take on too many themes, look at too many facets of life, resulting in a story that becomes muddied, dense, and loses the reader.

This is not one of those times.

Mr. Wagamese takes on some pretty big ones: abuse, racism, hockey, hope, the loss of family, of culture, the journey into (and out of) alcoholism... His tale travels from the wildnerness of northern Ontario, to the big city of Toronto, and many small places in between. It visits ideas o
Kimberley Hope
Jan 21, 2014 Kimberley Hope rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-best
The last 50 pages of this novel offer some of the most emotional reading I've ever experienced. Wagamese is an incredible story-teller; he has an ability to inject life, honesty, and pure, unadulterated emotion into even the tiniest observations. I was moved to tears by the very first page as a result of Wagamese's ability to instill feelings of nostalgia for a time I never lived. "Indian Horse" is an intense story of the unspeakable horrors created by Residential School system in the 50's and 6 ...more
May 28, 2015 Lotuslulu rated it it was amazing
I read this with three young men in my senior English book club, and the experience has been one of the most moving of my career. The beauty and effortlessness of Wagamese's prose is transformative and profoundly engaging. Protagonist Saul Indian Horse finds himself without his family and in the depths of residential school and as the reader, you are there for every heartbreaking moment as this child tries to survive and understand, but also as he finds solace in Canada's national pastime, hocke ...more
Nov 18, 2014 Ruthie rated it it was amazing
Canada Reads selection. This book should be mandatory reading for every Canadian; for every person who lives in a country they or their forefathers invaded and imposed their values,their "way of life" upon. Beautifully written book, haunting and rewarding. The reviews on Goodreads for this book are some of the most thoughtful I have seen for any book - and that is testament to how incredibly worthy this book is. Buy it, read it.
4.5 stars

I love it when a book makes you feel and makes you think. It's not just words on the page for ones entertainment or escape.

This is a book that for me opened my eyes. When I think Canada, racism/segregation they would never come to mind. It's something that isn't thought or talked about. Unlike slavery in the United States. But it's a real issue that affects people still.

Colonialism stripped the indigenous people of their land, their identity and beliefs. Trying to instill the European
Janice Boychuk
Wow. Where to begin.

This was a rare read - simply written, pure and raw honesty, but so powerful and impactful.

The author manages to magically reflect his truth in a raw, honest and non-candy-coated manner. He is so human. Yet I don't sense anger or vengeful thoughts as Wagamese life enravels and he travels back to his roots. Despite the atrocoties of his childhood, in my mind, he far surpasses as a saint than any of the lower-than-life God-fearing animals who inflicted this barbarity on an inno
Mar 27, 2015 Jill rated it it was amazing
Indian Horse is, at its core, a book about survival – about beginnings and endings, about horrors and triumphs and tapping into one’s best part to move forward. It is also one of the most harrowing books I’ve read lately on institutional racism and it deserves a wide readership.

Ojibway author Richard Wagamese creates an entirely believable and sympathetic character in Saul Indian Horse, an Ojibway child who has undergone far more in his young life than any child ever had a right to. His mother “
Tricia Dower
Oct 28, 2012 Tricia Dower rated it it was amazing
A heartbreaking, lyrical tale about an Ojibway boy named Saul Indian Horse who is kidnapped from his family and sent to a residential school where brutality is the order of the day. He finds escape through hockey and the encouragement of a priest who shows a compassion not found among the nuns and other priests. The hockey sequences are masterful with incredible detail about the craft of the game infused with the joy this suffering boy feels as he discovers his talent for the game and his abilit ...more
Mar 25, 2012 Brian rated it liked it
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese deals with a subject that is nuclear, that is close to my sympathy and interest, and yet the final result was something less than memorable, something more akin to a whimper than a bang. Wagamese certainly touches all the bases. His narrative includes respect for traditional Ojibway practice and values. It illustrates the cruel imposition of a residential school system that sought to destroy culture and regularly enacted various forms of abuse to attain whatever ...more
Dec 26, 2013 Rosana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian, 2013
This book is as beautiful as it is heart-breaking. It was an emotional marathon to read it, and more than once I had to push myself to keep on reading it. Yet, as a Canadian – albeit an adopted one - I felt that I had to do it. One of the most important reasons why we tell and listen/read stories is so we can avoid letting history repeat itself.

Richard Wagamese tells the story of a residential school survivor with compassion and beauty. Although a work of fiction, the story of Saul Indian Horse
Tanya Wiles-bell
Sep 05, 2015 Tanya Wiles-bell rated it it was amazing
Indian Horse is the story of deep sadness and trauma inflicted upon thousands of First Nations people's at the hands of (Canadian) religious (and political leaders). The writing is exquisite, conjuring up both visions of the North in its raw beauty and the horrors of life for the children placed in residential schools. Out of the desperate despair though, hope springs forth as the main character discovers the freedom of hockey. While I'm not a hockey fan myself, I could easily relate to how a pa ...more
Sep 23, 2013 Julie rated it liked it
Really enjoyed learning more about the morbid aspects of Canadian history that are too often omitted from elementary and high schools. This book effectively depicts the intergenerational trauma, systemic and personal racism, rape and other authorities faced by Canada's aboriginal peoples. What's sad is that not much has changed for the better as of today. I loved how Saul had hockey as his escape and cried when that was taken away from him. The book could've pared down the many detailed descript ...more
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Amnesty Internati...: January/February 2015 - Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese 12 46 Apr 01, 2015 11:18PM  
CBC Books: Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese discussion 32 145 Nov 26, 2013 08:34PM  
If You Like Hockey You Should Read This 1 26 May 29, 2013 01:33PM  
  • Two Solitudes
  • The Age of Hope
  • February
  • Away
  • Kiss of the Fur Queen
  • The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America
  • Born with a Tooth
  • The Reason You Walk
  • Birdie
  • The Song of Kahunsha
  • And the Birds Rained Down
  • Bone & Bread
  • The Bone Cage
  • Rockbound
  • The Jade Peony
  • The Deception of Livvy Higgs
  • The Garneau Block
  • When Everything Feels Like the Movies
Richard Wagamese is one of Canada's foremost Native authors and storytellers. Working as a professional writer since 1979 he's been a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer and the author of eleven titles from major Canadian publishers.

An esteemed public speaker and storyteller, he lives in the mountains outside of Kamloops BC with his
More about Richard Wagamese...

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“We need mystery. Creator in her wisdom knew this. Mystery fills us with awe and wonder. They are the foundations of humility, and humility is the foundation of all learning. So we do not seek to unravel this. We honour it by letting it be that way forever.”

The quote of a grandmother explaining The Great Mystery of the universe to her grandson.”
“When your innocence is stripped from you, when your people are denigrated, when the family you came from is denounced and your tribal ways and rituals are pronounced backward, primitive, savage, you come to see yourself as less than human. That is hell on earth, that sense of unworthiness. That's what they inflicted on us.” 15 likes
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