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 setting is a Northern Ontario village whose primary inhabitants are Cree, many of whom still live with a toe in the hunting/gathering world of their ancestors. Although we spend most of our time in...more
As in his first book, Boyden uses intertwining voices to tell this dramatic tale. Will Bird lies in a coma in a northern hospital, where he is not expected to recover from a terrible beating; while his niece Annie, sits by his side. Both have stories to tell. Boyden's time is disjointed, merging slices o...more
Though about half the narration takes place northern Ontario in their Cree community, and half in New York City, the taiga forest is obviously a well-loved home for both narrators. But this is not a novel full of action.
What hooked me was the tone of the narrators, Will & Annie, reflective and measured, always reaching out to the other. The sentences...more
THROUGH BLACK SPRUCE is a family stor...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
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
Annie’s story focuses on the search for her sister, Suzanne, who becomes a model in NYC, unfortunately becoming mixed up with drug gangs. Annie goes to NYC in search of her sister, and subsequently becomes a part-t...more
Annie, a young Cree woman liv...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
The narrators and main characters in Through Black Spruce...more
This book has two main characters, an uncle and his niece, and they tell their entwined stories in alternating chapters. As I finished each chapter I wanted to continue with that narrator, but then I became engrossed wit...more
Through Black Spruce centres on family/small community loyalties and feuds. There's abit of the Hatfield/McCoy running through the story line. The main characters are Will and is niece Annie Bird who throughout seem to manage to bring a lot of pain down upon them for different reasons, but you care about them and sympathize with them. They may be human and flawed but also likeable. The story unfolds by alternating the narration between Will, then Annie. It takes the first couple of chapters to...more
The story is told in alternating chapters by Will Bird, bush pilot, sometimes trapper and widower, who happens to be in a coma and Annie Bird, his niece, who is searching for her missing sister, Suzanne, a successful model. The novel is set in Northern Ontario, with sc...more
This book came to me only because I liked the cover when I saw it in our little library; I then liked the slight description on the back cover.
Cut to the chase: I really, really liked this book. Alternating chapters from Uncle Will and Annie gave me such a three-dimensional world of each, and then beyond that. Not in a supernatural way, but in the way we experience our lives and the lives of others..
As it happened, I finished th...more
The voice Boyden’s uses is stark, simple, elegantly First Nations, and because of...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