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Gabriel's Story: A Novel
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Gabriel's Story: A Novel

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  168 ratings  ·  25 reviews
When Gabriel Lynch moves with his mother and brother from a brownstone in Baltimore to a dirt-floor hovel on a homestead in Kansas, he is not pleased. He does not dislike his new stepfather, a former slave, but he has no desire to submit to a life of drudgery and toil on the untamed prairie. So he joins up with a motley crew headed for Texas only to be sucked into an ever- ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Anchor (first published January 16th 2001)
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This was a random library selection. The cover had a kind of bleakness that appealed to me, and so I decided to go ahead and check it out. I didn't know what it was about, but I'm willing to take a chance - you never know when a random book might end up wowing you.

Unfortunately, this one wasn't one of those for me. The first bit was great. The language and the descriptions and the way that Gabriel was described as having an anger that manifested itself in silence... it was beautiful and I thoug
Nicholas Gourlay
Dec 03, 2009 Nicholas Gourlay rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone that can read.
This novel is a brutally wonderful piece of literature about post-civil war wild west, the hostility and confusion of mankind, the lack of faith and the abundance of promise is all very relevant. This is a very engrossing read and I couldn't help my fingers from itching to turn the next page.

Gabriel’s Story is very powerful, wonderfully deep and constantly moving.

I read this book having just taken a writing class from the author, not really knowing what it was about. I was thrilled to discover that it is a historical Western with actual diversity in the characters that really reflects the West at the time - I love Western movies but the lack of diversity in them is a HUGE pet peeve of mine so this book had my attention right away for telling a coming of age story in the West through the lens of a young black man. I couldn't put this book down. I love the ...more
Despite a rather slow start and Gabriel being a pretty unlikable character in the beginning, this ended up being a coming-of-age Western novel that I really liked.

It begins with Gabriel, his brother Ben, and their mother traveling to the Kansas plains to meet up with the boys' new step-father. Gabriel resents his mother remarrying and the move west. When his father was alive, Gabriel believed he was on track to become a rare thing, a black doctor. Now he's facing a life of busting sod to grow cr
During post civil war, African American Gabriel, his brother and mother moved west (Kansas) to his mother's new husband, Solomon. Instead of a town and civilizaton, they found themselves on a homestead, living in a sod house. Gabriel resented Solomon and the hard work he did plowing the hard prairie sod with a mule. At first chance, Gabriel and his friend, James, joined in with a group of cowboys who had brought a herd into the town for sale. Instead of just herding cattle, the boys found that t ...more
Apr 10, 2012 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: a friend
Oh what a journey! The widowed mother of Gabriel Lynch remarries and the family is moved from the sweet setting of a brownstone to the harsh lands of Kansas. Gabriel hates his new home, which is practically leaning and falling down at its seams, and the land he is forced to help till. He equally dislikes the man his mother marries, who unlike Gabriel's father, was a former slave. Gabriel goes off, into the wild wild west of a blue yonder with some rather rambunctious outlaws in search of somethi ...more
1870 - American West - young boys and their journey... Except this isn't your usual Western tale with romanticized cowboys and rowdy times in the saloons. The story is unrelenting in its depictions of senseless violence, racism, sexism, the trials of homesteading and the dangers faced by two young Af-Am boys traveling with strangers, far from home. The sense that their lives are not in their control comes across so poignantly that the story is hard to listen to at times. And yet, there are eleme ...more
I tried to read this book about a year ago and really could not get the pages turning, but I recently picked it up again. That is how I am, if I don't jive with a book the first time and always make my way back and try again. Most the time I am pleasantly surprised and what I find and amazed that I could get into the book the first time. This book was no exception.

Loved the writing style The characters really surprised me and they did not become the people I pictured them being in my mind. I gu
I didn't find this book 'fascinating' as so many other reviewers did. It felt fake and foolish to me, and not at all historically accurate; but perhaps it is and I just don't know my American/cowboy history well enough. The language seemed contrived at worst and forced at best. There was very little conversation/dialogue, but was mostly told by a 3rd-person narrator. It was often difficult to distinguish which character the author was talking about, and the regular face type vs. the italic face ...more

I didn't like this book at first. It went from dreary and depressing to coarse and brutal, but I just couldn't stop reading and leave the characters in a dismal situation. I'm glad I persevered. The characters and plot developed in ways I didn't anticipate, with an ending that provided resolution. It's a very deep and vivid story both in terms of the characters involved and the western settings.
Liz M
This was a superbly written book, well-paced. Durham doesn't lose his style and rhythm as so many writers do from the beginning to end. It's pretty violent and gruesome, but has a happy ending. I usually don't like happy endings because they're so predictable, but you're not sure how this one's going to end up 'til the last bit. Well, if you read this, then maybe I've spoiled it for you.
15 yr old Gabriel moves out west from Baltimore to start a new life in a sod house with a new stepfather, uncle and his younger brother. They are black and Gabriel thinks farming is beneath him. He and a friend take a chance to get away and have an adventure that takes them far. Things get worse, the landscape beautiful, great characters. In the genre of "All the Pretty Horses".
The majority of this book is about a 15 year-old boy witnessing a bunch of cowboys he is riding with murder, maim, and rape...without protest on his part. In the end, after nearly drowning, he decides to go home. Spare me!!!
If you really want to read a great book about blacks pioneering the West, read "The Personal Story of Rachel DuPree" by Ann Weisgarber.
Gripping. Still thinking about this one.
While not a novel that I would normally have picked up were I not simply trawling through the library looking for something to read, I found it engaging and illustrative of a history that I had hardly considered.
Mary Jane
Nice coming of age story set in the sod-buster days of the great plains and old west, told from an African American perspective. Very evocative descriptions of location and period. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
This is a 3.5 star read. David Anthony Durham crafts a compelling narrative that can be summed in an early quote, "'Ye cannot escape God's laws, God's sight, God's blessing, and God's judgment.'"
Beautifully written book set in the time of slavery in America. I didn't know a lot about this time, but Durham made it very much alive for me.
A very different coming-of-age story. Themes of good vs. evil, the grass is greener, etc. Ending was quite tense. Enjoyed it.
It's bleak and raw and desolate. Cormac McCarthy without the annoying Spanish.
Jinx Landis
Some brutality in this tale set in the wild west but a good story.
It's a western. A great little western. Read it.
Great story of the prairie and wild west.
Nov 20, 2010 Marsha marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfiled, rec-by-npr
NPR black cowboy coming of age 1800s --
So good on so many levels!
Emily marked it as to-read
Aug 13, 2015
Anne Munoz
Anne Munoz is currently reading it
Aug 08, 2015
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David Anthony Durham was born in New York City to parents of Caribbean descent. He grew up mostly in Maryland, but has spent the last fifteen years on the move, jumping from East to West Coast to the Rocky Mountains, and back and forth to Scotland and France several times. He’s married to a Scot that’s just as restless as he is, though they claim they’re settling down in Western Massachusetts afte ...more
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