Lucy's Reviews > Three-Day Road

Three-Day Road by Joseph Boyden
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's review
May 03, 2012

liked it
Read from April 09 to 23, 2012

This is one of those kinds of books I appreciated more than I actually liked. The time period is set during World War I, or The Great War, which I knew very little about. I went through my goodreads book and I have read 32 books that are set during or about World War II. I have read 2 about World War I. Of course, I’ve also watched Downton Abbey but I have a sneaky suspicious watching solders convalesce on the estate of a british aristocrat isn’t the everyman’s story of the war.

Three Day Road probably isn’t either but I did get an unflinching look at the brutality of living, fighting and dying in the trenches. By reading, I got a glimpse of the unrelenting snails pace of progress or defeat. I learned what kind of provisions the lowly privates of the war had provided and the kind of artillery and strategy used by those hunting down Fritz. It was all very interesting and depressing.

What sets Three Day Road apart from other dreary war books is the point of view of the narrators - both Native Americans. One is young Xavier, who enlists with his childhood friend, Elijah, both given Christian names by nuns trying to unheathenize them in Eastern Canada. Xavier and Elijah are excellent soldiers due to their lifetime spent hunting. They are selected as snipers and commanded to go out on midnight attacks, hunting their new prey - Germans.

Xavier struggles with the cause and the brutality. As he narrates from the first person, I could feel his reluctance, his fear as well as his confusion about wanting to do well when doing well meant killing. Elijah, on the other hand, enjoys his success and becomes lost to sanity after killing hundreds and becoming addicted to morphine. How their friendship and loyalty plays out is a major theme of the book.

The other narrator is Niska, Xaviers aunt, who continues to live as her ancestors did: hunting and roaming for shelter as a nomad. She is also perceived by her tribe to have special powers and visions that come to her when she has what appears to be epileptic seizures.

The chapters interchange between the two as Niska cares for Elijah upon his return home after the war. Through flashbacks on both their parts, a story of Native American folklore, the high cost of war and the element of three - past, present and future, emerge.

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Reading Progress

04/12/2012 page 70
18.0% "My brain is struggling with this."
04/14/2012 page 137
34.0% "I just had the worst night of dreams after reading this right before bed. I'm a little put off but am going to keep reading based on its high marks from other reviews."
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