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...more
We are treated to two narr ...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
What I found highly grating about this book was the dialogue, which was embarrassingly artificial. The perspective of Annie was relentlessly two-dimensional, as was Boyden's portrayal of the model socialite life in New York. I realize that this milieu is notoriously superficial, but Boyden did nothing other than echo stereotypical dialogue of ...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
First o ...more
This is the third Joseph Boyden book I've read before and, as always, I really enjoyed his writing. His style is very clear, but also detailed. I also found the pacing of this novel to be good- if I hadn't been busy this week I probably would have finished it much sooner. I've heard others found this to be slow read, but for me it wasn't. The dual narrative I find makes for a more page turning read, as you keep jumping from Will's to Annie's narrative and back again. I also really liked how this ...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
Through Black Spruce is a beautifully written, atmospheric novel that unfolds a little like a mystery novel. Even though it deals with violence and drugs, it is beautiful throughout and it rises above its dark themes to tell stories of resilience and about family and the human spirit.
It also gets points for its exploration of a current Native Canadian way of life, its difficulties as well as its beauty.
Why not five stars? The dual perspective narration was really well done, ...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
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