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Who Has Seen the Wind

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,835 ratings  ·  150 reviews
When W.O. Mitchell died in 1998 he was described as “Canada's best-loved writer.” Every commentator agreed that his best – and his best-loved – book was Who Has Seen the Wind. Since it was first published in 1947, this book has sold almost a million copies in Canada.

As we enter the world of four-year-old Brian O’Connal, his father the druggist, his Uncle Sean, his mother, and
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 14th 2001 by New Canadian Library (first published 1947)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,835 ratings  ·  150 reviews

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Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, canada
"It had something to do with dying; it had something to do with being born. Loving something and being hungry were with it too. He knew that much now. There was the prairie; there was a meadow lark, a baby pigeon, and a calf with two heads. In some haunting way the Ben was part of it. So was Mr. Digby."

Thanks to my cross-Atlantic flight which kept me in a seat for hours with little distraction I finished reading the Canadian classic that is Who Has Seen the Wind. This is a feat that I probably
Aug 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
"Feathering lazily, crazily down,loosed from the hazed softness of the sky, the snow came to rest in startling white bulbs on the dead leaves of the poplars, webbing in between the branches. Just outside the grandmother's room, where she lay quite still in her bed, the snow fell soundlessly, flake by flake piling up its careless weight. Now and again a twig would break off suddenly, relieve itself of a white burden of snow, and drop to earth."

The prose is absolutely beautiful; you are in the sc
Aa coming-of-age during the Great Depression

If it be a no-brainer adventure or a plot full of relentless debauchery you’re looking for, I suggest you avoid this book entirely. However, if you seek a deeply touching novel of intelligence and substance, indeed I urge you to read Who Has Seen The Wind.

It tells the story of a prairie boy’s initiation into the mysteries of life, as he discovers death, God, and the spirit that moves through everything: the wind.

The plot details the little things in
W.D. Clarke
Jun 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
I am still recovering —** years hence—from being beaten into submission by this book, by my grade 11 English teacher (whom I have otherwise since come to adore), being force-fed so much of its prairie-fields of wheat, its bodies coming through the rye, its wind barely shaking the barley, writing as bland and endless as those plain plains, as bowlfuls of Cream of Wheat with nary a sultana in sight to break up the monotonony of white. It sticks in your throat....
Damn you, Canadian Content-M
Sheila Craig
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I first read Who Has Seen the Wind in school when I was about 13, back in the late 1970's. It was the first book that truly touched my soul. Remember in the movie of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone when Harry first holds his wand in Olivander's shop? It was like that.

I couldn't wait to discuss it in class. My teacher asked some question I've forgotten, and I raised my hand and enthusiastically expressed the fullness of my heart and all the novel had revealed to me. My teacher flatly re
Jul 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-for-school
July 27th, 2013: I'm reading this book for my summer English class, so I'm not expecting to like it. I will, however, try to keep an open mind about it, and I'll give it my best shot. Here we go!

Update July 29th: About halfway through the novel now. As expected, I'm not really liking it at all. I'll admit, it's not bad in the sense that I want to smash my face in with an anvil, and the writing isn't too shabby. It's just so boring. There is no plot at all. There's no story, no conflict, just a little boy and his ps/>Update
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
Brian O'Connal is a little boy living on the Canadian Prairies with his parents, his grandmother and younger brother Bobbie. This is a gentle and touching look at his early years in a small town where everyone knows everyone else and it's hard for a boy to get away with anything.

The authour takes us inside Brian's home life and school life, his ups and downs with friends, neighbours and a new puppy, and then (spoiler alert) the tragedy of losing his father when Brian is still a young
Daniel Kukwa
Jan 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian-lit
A book bathed in the golden sunshine of a sepia-tinted childhood. This is a novel touched with a magic few authors can compete with. Whatever world Mr. Mitchell inhabited, we are all blessed that he translated it to the printed page for all of us to enjoy. It made even the early-teenaged me weep with sadness and joy.
Tom Ippen
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, canadian, owned
Holy hell.

A very Steinbeckian voice meets "To Kill A Mockingbird."

Sad and beautiful. Couldn't put it down.

"Where spindling poplars lift their dusty leaves and wild sunflowers stare, the gravestones stand among the prairie grasses. Over them a rapt and endless silence lies. This soil is rich."
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! I found characteristics of most of the characters to resonate inside me. I applaud the sensitivity of W.O. Mitchell in entering the world of children, especially boys. I cannot wait to read more of his work.
Rebecca McNutt
Who Has Seen the Wind was an excellent novel, telling the story of a young boy's point of view on his rural Canadian neighborhood, his family, his friends and the world.
Feb 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
I am adding this book but it has the honour of being the worst, driest book I have ever read.
Brian is a boy growing up in Saskatchewan in the 1930s. He lives with his parents, a younger brother, and his grandmother, whom he hates! The book starts when Brian is (I think) 4-years old and continues until he is 11 (I think).

It was ok. Pretty slow-moving, as nothing big really happens. It was just things that happened in his life as he was growing up. I grew up in Southern Sask (though in the 70s and 80s!), but “recognized” some of the small town prairie happenings (i.e. (sadly) kids trying
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were moments like this that awed me:

“For a long time he had lain listening to the night noises that stole out of the dark to him. Distant he had heard the sound of grown-up voices casual in the silence, welling up almost to spilling over, then subsiding. The cuckoo clock had poked the stillness nine times; the house cracked its knuckles, and the night wind stirring through the leaves of the poplar just outside his room on the third floor, strengthened in its intensity until it was wild at
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Can Lit fans
How I Came To Read This Book: I believe this is the first book I read in my Canadian fiction course in first year university.

The Plot: Brian is four years old when we’re introduced to our protagonist, growing up on the prairies with his father the druggist, along with his mother and Scottish grandmother. As a baby boomer, the adult world is still reeling post-WW2 but Brian is simply exploring it – from the wonders of prairie wildlife and weather to his relationships with friends and family memb
I finally read this after bailing on it in grade 9 English almost 3 decades ago (what I recall is that I was bored by it, but it could be I was turned off by the treatment of the animals too).

I can see why, as a kid, I'd have been bored out of my mind. Very little plot, a lot of interior life and natural description, death-death-and-more-death, and far too subtle social and psychological commentary for a 14 year old--even an aware, intelligent one--to fathom. I can appreciate all tho
Jim Puskas
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: human-relations
Given the enormous reputation of the author and of this book in particular, I found it diappointing. Certainly, the imagery and lyricism are outstanding; so as a book of prose it sits at the head of the class. And Mitchell's portrayal of the socially oppressive environment of a prairie town rang true -- perhaps a Western variant of Davies' Deptford with all its local petty tyrants and their victims.
But that failed to make it an enjoyable story -- in fact there's not much story at all, just
Carl R.
May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
It’s odd how one gets involved in things some times. I have a Canadian son-in-law who gave me this and two other books by Canadian writers for Christmas/Birthday with the idea that I might enjoy and profit by a deeper acquaintance with Canadian things literary. Every literate Canadian, he says, has read Who Has Seen The Wind at some point.
I’m glad that Mr. Mitchell gained success with this book and that he has enjoyed a long and distinguished career. I’m glad also that Canadians have a bondin
Lee Scoresby
Sep 13, 2011 rated it liked it
My mother tried to have this book removed from the curriculum in the Christian high school I went to.

After she failed, I could hardly wait to read the book. I was very disappointed. There was absolutely nothing any reasonable person could have objected to, and very little to titillate a typical boy in grade 10.

According to my mother, the word damn appeared too often, and there was a religious fanatic who wasn't portrayed in a positive light.

I love my mom, but she
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this four times during four different phases of my life. The first time was as a lonely, neglected eleven year old. The second time was as a nineteen year old military girl. The third time was as a twenty-five year old nanny. The fourth time was as a forty year old wife and mother. I LOVED it each time. Something about the sweeping, vast prairie, golden fields and blue endless skies speaks comfort, patience, love, peace and beauty to my heart.
Chelsea Hagen
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some parts of this book I loved the way it was written. Some parts I'm not sure I understood it. I liked how W.O. Mitchell was so descriptive. Somethings like a mouse was a complete riddle to figure out he was talking about a mouse, but when I knew that's what he was writing about I was like wow that's amazing.
Taya M
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
One of the most amazing bboks ever I loved the way w.o. mitchell showed so much love and passion for what he belived in through his writting and The search for god was touching.

Jun 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Cute book, but nothing special - like a mix between Little House on the Prairie and Tom Sawyer.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Canadian classic! My favourite image from the book: "where the sidewalk ends and the Prairie begins".
Jennifer Lott
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Difficult to follow in places, but plenty of touching, charming and funny moments to move me along. An endearing protagonist and a poetic narrative. It's the first book to make me cry in a long time.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book but not as much as Jake and the Kid...the story of a young boy growing up in rural Saskatchewan during the Depression years. The characters were quite likeable and well developed, Brian and his little brother Bobbie, their friends and teachers and his family, and the many characters living near or in the little prairie town; but the story line was a bit humdrum. I can see where students would not appreciate the wonderful writing and would be looking for more excitement and ad ...more
Lindsey G
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this Canadian story of a boy growing up on the prairies. I was taken in with Mitchell's style, character painting, and depiction of the natural world. There was a sense of wonder to it. Particularly poignant for me as a mom was the chapter in which Brian asks for skates for Christmas - there was a beautiful mother-son moment there.

Despite the language (which suits the characters who use it), I'm glad I got a nice, vintage hardcover edition. It will have a special place on m
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was on my shelf for many years and I finally got around to reading it. It was written in 1947 and is a coming of age story of a young boy growing up in a small town on the edge of the Saskatchewan prairie in Canada during the depression. A nice, refreshing read.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: western
I'm ashamed to say that I had never heard of this book (or author) because on finishing, I realized that it reminded me strongly of two of my very favorite books: William Saroyan's Human Comedy and Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine with the advantage that it depicts the place where my father and grandparents grew up and the time in which my father grew up, southern Sasketchewan during the depression.
The tone is oral story-telling, and I could imagine reading it resting during a hike, in a cozy chair beside
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I recently decided to revisit a favourite book from when I was growing up -- and am relieved to say that this book has stood the test of time and remains at the top of my reading experiences. Mitchell's prose is both sparse and beautiful just like the Canadian prairies, the setting of this coming of age story. I spent many summers in Saskatchewan growing up and though the Great Depression was long over by the time I was a child, these are the stories that I heard from my grandparents, parents, a ...more
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Play Book Tag: Who Has Seen the Wind / W.O. Mitchell. 3 stars 3 10 Jul 12, 2019 07:45PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Who Has Seen The Wind by W.O. Mitchell 1 12 Apr 10, 2015 05:54PM  

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William Ormond Mitchell was an author of novels, short stories, and plays. He is best known for his 1947 novel Who Has Seen The Wind, which has sold close to a million copies in North America, and a collection of short stories, Jake and the Kid, which subsequently won the Stephen Leacock Award. Both of these portray life on the Canadian prairies where he grew up in the early part of the 20th century. He ha ...more
“He had seen it often, from the verandah of his uncle's farmhouse, or at the end of a long street, but till now he had never heard it. The hollowing hum of telephone wires along the road, the ring of hidden crickets, the stitching sound of grasshoppers, the sudden relief of a meadow lark's song, were deliciously strange to him.” 1 likes
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