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Three-Day Road by Joseph Boyden
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Jul 16, 12

Recommended for: anyone
Read in April, 2008

Book Review: Three Day Road
Joseph Boyden
Viking Canada Penguin 2005
ISBN 0-670-06362-2
Once in a long while one reads a book that you cannot put down and the overall beauty of it leaves one gasping. Three Day Road, is such a book. It tells the story of Two Cree young men who find themselves in WW I fighting in the trenches of France as snipers using their hunting and shooting skills they learned in the bush growing up near James Bay.

The story begins with the protagonist, Xavier Bird, has returned from the war minus his leg and addicted to morphine. Aunt Niska, Xavier’s only living relative has paddled five days against the river current to bring him home. Niska is a Cree woman who has lived in traditional ways alone in the bush much of her life except for a brief stay in a residential school as a child. The story takes place during their three day return to James Bay. Flashbacks to the battlefields of France, vividly told, and to each of their childhoods occur during times when Xavier is asleep, or drugged by the morphine that controls the phantom pain in his leg. We learn Xavier is on borrowed time as his morphine cache is nearly gone. The title Three Day Road has a truly layered meaning in the story.

We learn a lot about the traditional native way of life as well as the isolation natives must endure in the world of the wemistikoshiw (the Cree word for white man).
We gain a certain insight into a residential school where Cree children are taken from their homes and fat Nuns abuse little boys and punish them severely if they speak in native tongues.

The historically accurate description of life in the trenches in France is excellent – on par with the likes of Pierre Berton’s Vimy.

Boyden’s descriptive and narrative skill is terrific and a lot is included in the books 350 pages. The book is a Writers Trust Award winner and one can easily see why.

I give it five stars (but would give six if I could)

Malcolm Watts BA MSW
Novelist Reflections from Shadow
www.authorsden.com/malcolmwatts
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Marick "Once in a long while one reads a book that you cannot put down and the overall beauty of it leaves one gasping."
Sigh... I really couldn't have said it any better myself, unless I said this: "I give it five stars (but would give six if I could)".


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