Through Black Spruce
A haunting novel about identity, love, and loss by the author of Three Day Road
Will Bird is a legendary Cree bush pilot, now lying in a coma in a hospital in his hometown of Moose Factory, Ontario. His niece Annie Bird, beautiful and self-reliant, has returned from her own perilous journey to sit beside his bed. Broken in different ways, the two take silent communion in t...more
The CBA (Canadian Bestsellers Association) have handed out the 2009 Libris Awards. Joseph won Fiction of the Year for Through Black Spruce. He also won author of the year.
Joseph's skill in making the narrative ring true is remarkable: we learn Will’s story while he lies in a coma, and Annie’s, too, as she hopes that by “hearing” her story, her uncle will fight his way out of the coma. Marius Netmaker, grandson of Elijah, also has his strong role to play.
I read the short, first chapter tw...more
The “something” is a strange place in the road: the place between traditional ways of life and modernity, between nature and the insidious effects of the drug culture, between life and death. There are two stories that are expertly interwoven here: the story of W...more
Well - thank goodness for CBC book club on Goodreads! It became one of the first of the group's reads and now I had no excuse not to finally pick it up...more
This book is a deserving winner of the prestigious Giller prize in 2008. I've been wanting to read it for some time, but wanted to read Boyden's first book "Three Day Road" first. As good as that book was, this one is even better. But it was good to read Three Day Road first as it is a precursor to this one and helped me understand the characters a bit more. Like Three Day Road, this book is so difficult to read in some ways because you keep waiting for...more
THROUGH BLACK SPRUCE is a family stor...more
Viking Canada 2008 Giller Book Prize Winner
I love Joseph Boyden’s stories. Through Black Spruce is a triumph well deserving of the Giller prize recently awarded to him.
Some of the main characters in this book’s group of Cree people living in and around James Bay are descended from the main character, Xavier Bird - the main character from Boyden’s previous work, Three Day Road. A good part of this story concerns Will Bird, grandson of Xavie...more
After a long time away from the book, I decided that it merited a hig...more
Joseph Boyden might well turn out to be another Michael Ondaatje or Margaret Atwood--a gre...more
Will, survivor of three almost fatal plane crashes, lies in a coma after a long-term family feud leaves him close to death. Annie, returned from her own wild journey, goes to visit him every night. She talks to him, telling him her story, endeavouring to break through to his unconscious and re-connect him with the world. She is a reluctant healer, gifted with special pow...more
This novel alternates between the perspectives of Will Bird, alcoholic and bush pilot, telling his story to his nieces Annie and Suzanne, and that of Annie, who is talking to Will while he lies in hospital in a coma. Eventually we learn what happened to put him there, and the way...more
This latest novel centers on Will Bird, son of Xavier Bird, the heroic soldier we were introduced to previously. The story comes to live through two intertwined monologues. We follow Will’s thoughts while he recovers from a serious plane crash, a near death encounter that has left him comatose in a hospital be...more
Boyden again writes with poetic prose, and has well-developed, complex characters. This story could be read as a sequel of the first – although it does stand alone – in an epic historical account of the aboriginal community in Canada through 4 generations, from the great-aunt Niska, a shaman woman in the beginning of the century and her nephe...more
Once again in “Through Black Spruce” we see the effects of trauma the Native People of Canada have suffered following their treatment in the hands of the settlers to Canada. Ther...more
However, I was disappointed to read about the culture of drugs, drinking and violence that still infects the growing up of aboriginal children and their fate.
In 2000 I'd read Monkey Beach, a novel by Eden Robinson, that also portrayed the...more
The flow is a piece of story-telling magic/literary technique where you slip into the story and the words don't even have a structure anymore - you are there, inside the world of the book. The pages slip by. It's been a little while since I read a book that flowed as smoothly as this one. I also loved reading thoughtful and interesting...more
A double narrative that reads like oral tradition. Boyden's book brings to life two Cree tales that parallel each other and take us on a journey of self-discovery. We travel through black spruce to the city with Annie, and through black spruce to the edge of death as Will lies in his coma.
While we read about alcohol and drug addiction, biker gangs, muggings and rape, Boyden treats...more
Anyway, this book is about a niece and an uncle and their two stories. The book is more or less them telling stories to each other, and sortof healing each other along the way. It is pretty gripping, since there are mysterious aspects to it - what happened to Will? Where is Suzanne? Both chara...more
His first novel,Three Day Road, is about two Cree soldiers serving in the First World War. In this second book, you have a son of one of those soldiers as one of the main characters in the book, the...more
He grew up in Willowdale, North York, Ontario and attended the Jesuit-run Brebeuf College School. Boyden's father Raymond Wilfrid Boyden was a medical officer renowned for his bravery, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and was the highest-decorated medical officer of World War II.
Boyden, of Irish, Scottish and Métis heritage...more