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Medicine Walk

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  7,301 ratings  ·  1,042 reviews
Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon. He's sixteen years old and has had the most fleeting of relationships with the man. The rare moments they've shared haunt and trouble Frank, but he answers the call, a son's duty to a father. He finds Eldon decimated after years of drinking, dying of liver failure in a small town flophouse. Eldon asks his son to take ...more
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by McClelland & Stewart (first published March 4th 2014)
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  7,301 ratings  ·  1,042 reviews

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This is one that will stick with me for a long time. Eldon Starlight, a Canadian Ogibwe Indian, is a broken man. He has suffered a number of devastating experiences that will haunt him for life. He has a son, Franklin, a very mature 16-year-old to whom he has not been a father. Eldon is dying; his liver is destroyed from too much alcohol. There are things he has not been able to tell Franklin. It has come to the point where it is now or never. He asks Franklin to take him to particular spot in t ...more
Susan's Reviews
Such a beautiful, heart-wrenching story! I loved this book.

This novel is about resilience as much as it is about finding forgiveness in your heart for the wrongs done to you, as well as the wrongs you have done to others.

Eldon Starlight personified the harsh brutality of addiction, loss of heritage and self-worth that Richard Wagamese himself had experienced in his own life. (Eldon's harrowing life-journey was, in part, based on Wagamese's own troubled youth.)

Franklin Starlight is, to me, th
Diane S ☔
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In this heartbreaking story about redemption, forgiveness and past regrets, Wagamese writes a magnificent story. His descriptions of the lives of Franklin, his father and the old man are poignant, at times heartbreaking but show a deep and abiding love that though not always shown, was always there. There are very few characters in this story but the characters that are there are more than enough to fill these pages.

He uses words in a way that few can, his portrayal of the woods, and the trip F
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Medicine Walk was hard to get into, but once immersed it was well worth the read. The story focused on the relationship between three men. Sixteen year old Frank lives with the “old man”. He doesn’t know his mother, and only knows that his father is an unreliable alcoholic he has seen a few times in his life. The book begins when Frank’s father calls on his son to help him get to the place he wants to be to die. Along the way, Frank learns about his father’s past and his own past.

Medicine Walk i
Elyse  Walters
This is my second book by Richard Wagamese, from Wabaseemoong Independent Nations....
He was an incredible Ojibway author, who passed away in 2017, lived in Kamloop, British Columbia, Canada...and I’m just now heartbroken for his loss. I’m sorry I didn’t read him years ago.
He was not only an incredible storyteller .....but a master-teacher .....of social justice, human consciousness and interconnectedness.

Emotionally....”Medicine Walk”....deeply affected me.
Even without having read reviews ( t
A sixteen-year-old young man, wise before his time, accompanies his estranged father on his last journey to the grave. They travel physically, mentally and emotionally through the landscape of the Canadian mountains in the 1950s. His father, Eldon Starlight, request to be buried as an Indian warrior, while Frank, his young son, is not convinced of his father's warrior status. As their journey continues, a tale of heartbreak, bitterness, endurance and love enfolds, while a picturesque world opens ...more
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nov-14
I have just added Richard Wagamese to my list of favorite authors.
His descriptiveness and the way he tells a story is like he is creating a painting. He is brutally honest and tender and had me choking back the tears more than once.
Franklin's journey was heartbreaking yet inspiring. The selflessness of love was deeply moving!
Thank you goes out to my dear friend Sandy who introduced me to this author.
A Beautiful Read!
“In the Ojibway world you go inward in order to express outward. That journey can be harrowing sometimes but it can also be the source of much joy, freedom, and light.”

It is difficult to describe Medicine Walk as a work of fiction as this novel reads like reality. In a gracefully incisive prose Richard Wagamese tells a moving father/son tale. By turns brutally honest and deeply empathetic, Wagamese's narrative explores the many undercurrents of this complex father/son dynamic. He renders with cl
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was, for me, a deeply personal read. What is a medicine walk? “Everything a guy would need is here if you want it and know how to look for it, he said. You gotta spend time gatherin’ what you need. What you need to keep you strong. He called it a medicine walk.” He goes on to say that there are many times in our lives that you don’t even realize what you need until you lay your eyes upon it. This is at the core of the story and an often returned to lesson. A long estranged father asks his 1 ...more
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful writing! Eldon Skylight has lived a sad life and his alcoholic liver is on the verge of killing him. So, he sends for his son, Franklin, to take him into the mountains so that when he dies, Franklin can bury him in the ‘warrior way’. Franklin has been raised by Bunky, ‘the old man’, and is a master woodsman. He accepts this last request from a man he hardly knows as his duty and an opportunity to learn about his parents.

The two men set off. Franklin leads the way, while Eldon rides Fra
J.K. Grice
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The older we get, the more we reflect on our lives and all the good and bad times we've gone through. We know ourselves like nobody else ever possibly could. We live with our choices, both wise and foolish over the course of a lifetime. When we periodically revisit our past and our memories, we find both pride and shame and often struggle with the latter, finding ways to cope and come to turns with our actions or behavior. So, when the past comes knocking for us, we may either smile at the recol ...more
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Medicine Walk moves slowly, and amazingly, reading this novel slowed me down. Wagamese writes beautifully about Franklin's quest to learn about his history - and the connection he and his troubled father finally forge. Thankful for the experience. ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In a recent interview, Canadian writer Richard Wagamese – born to Ojibway parents -- had this to say: “I don’t want to be compared, I don’t want to ghettoized, I don’t want to be marginalized…I just want people to read my work and go, ‘Wow.’”

Okay, Mr. Wagamese. WOW!

If life were fair, Richard Wagamese would be a household name by now. His latest novel – at its core – is an absent father’s redemption through the art of storytelling and a son’s growing knowledge of his own sense of identity.

Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Medicine Walk, Richard Wagamese uses spare language, but uses it beautifully and effectively, to give clear images of the natural setting in 1950s rural Canada, the nature of the people, the nature of their often harsh lives. Eldon and Franklin Starlight, father and son, each half-Indian, long estranged and largely unknown to one another, come together for one last purpose---Eldon wants his son to accompany him on his way to death. This is such a moving journey in which the father reveals muc ...more
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The story of a young boy's meeting with his dying abandoning father is haunting. Beautifully written, Wagamese vividly portrays a wild and gorgeous landscape that is the setting for the boy's (only) journey with his father, with all the boy's questions and resentments of a lifetime spent with another man who fathered him without being his father. The writing left me breathless and the revelations brought me closer than I ever could have imagined to a man whose life is nothing like my own. ...more
This book has some really pretty lines. What happens could happen and the characters could realistically do what they do. While it is pretty darn easy to guess the final resolution, the author throws in other questions that need to be resolved and you cannot put the book down until you have gotten all your answers. Finally, wisdom and human frailties are attributed to both Native Americans as well as those characters not of Native American heritage. This gives a balanced portrayal rather than an ...more
‘Medicine Walk’ is my first novel by Richard Wagamese, and I was hooked by his prose from the very first sentence. It is the moving story of “the kid,” Ojibway Franklin Starlight, and “the father,” Eldon Starlight, and their journey through the dense forest of anger, regret, forgiveness and healing. On this 40-mile walk by foot and horseback through the breathtaking backwoods of rural Canada, in search of a burial site “facing east” for the dying father, 16-year-old Franklin (“Frank”) learns the ...more
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction
I am fascinated by the Native American culture and have a partial understanding of the culture due to the fact that I was raised a half a mile from a huge Sioux Reservation. I found Richard Wagamese’s style of writing spot on with regard to the cadence of their dialect. Given that Wagamese is of the Ojibway tribe, it’s understandable that he is familiar and has command of their dialogue. What gives this novel it’s strength, is his prose. The man is remarkable in his ability to sparsely use langu ...more
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Eldon Starlight has lived a tough life. Once upon a time, he was a hard worker, but he has also spent a good chunk of his time on earth drinking, in a state of drunkenness, or hung over. Now he is dying of liver disease, and he wants his son Franklin to bring him to a particular spot in the Canadian wilderness to be buried in warrior fashion. Sixteen-year-old Frank barely knows him. He mostly resents him for all the missed get-togethers and no-shows when he was younger. What right does he have t ...more
It's all we are in the end. Our stories.

Medicine Walk is Richard Wagamese's latest novel, and my first by this author. I've been meaning to read his work for a long time, and after finishing it I can see why he is an established Canadian writer, but also can't help but be disappointed.

Medicine Walk is a novel of a broken relationship at a moment when there's no time left to mend it: Franklin Starlight, the protagonist, is a young Native man who was adopted by "The Old Man" when he was a litt
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
I was so lucky to win a copy of “Medicine Walk” by Richard Wagamese, an established Canadian Native author and storyteller, through the Goodreads Giveaway Contest. This is his latest novel taking place in the wilderness of British Columbia, and my first by this author. WOW what a novel! I loved it, it made my heart happy and sad, and will definitely not be the last book I read by this author. This is a profoundly moving novel and one that will rest in your heart for a long time.

Franklin Starlig
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
In the early chapters of this book, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. It seemed slow and rather depressing. Before long, though, I was hooked on this quiet novel that gently unfolds itself, showing us the power of stories that need telling and how burdensome it can be to hold them in.
Apr 29, 2018 added it
Shelves: 21st-century, canada
7.5/10 ⭐️

In many aboriginal societies, a medicine walk is traditionally a walk through the natural land, to discover one's touchstones. This mindful journey through the natural world uncovers the healing elements that offer themselves to the seeker along the path: the healing plants, the rocks, the animals, the signs that speak most clearly to one's spirit and help it re-harmonize itself. (Essentially, a vision quest.) In this novel, Wagamese sends his characters Franklin and Eldon, estranged fa
Shirley Schwartz
This is probably one of the ten best, it not THE best book I've ever read! Words cannot express just how wonderful it is. The language that Richard Wagamese uses is spare, but so descriptive. His descriptions of the scenery in and around northern BC, took my breath away, just like the actual scenery does every time I see it. Franklin is 16 years old when we meet him. He lives on a remote farm with his guardian who we only know as "the old man" up until the end of the book. Franklin's only memory ...more
Steven Langdon
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: super
Richard Wagamese is emerging as perhaps Canada's most profound author in capturing and conveying the realities of Indian life. His last novel "Indian Horse" was a powerful portrait of the tragedy of residential schools abuse. Now this book presents a deeply moving story of father-son tensions in the poverty-stricken margins of a western mill town where Indian inhabitants are confined.

The life of Frank, the 16 year old son, could be seen as grim, deprived of his parents, even his father -- who r
5⭐️ Wow! What an amazing book! Medicine Walk is the first book by Richard Wagamese that I have read, but it will not be the last! The writing is beautiful and very descriptive.

" It was late fall. The dark green of fir leaned to a sullen greyness, and the sudden bursts of colour from the last clinging leaves struck him like the flare of lightning bugs in a darkened field."

The author skillfully drew me into the story with his words.

"Sad's not a bad thing unless it gets a hold of you and won't let
Exceptional. This book was simply exceptional. I'm nearly at a loss for words trying to describe how GOOD and so well written this book was. Wagamese's writing E X U D E S emotion and spirit in every sentence. It is such a deeply emotional and raw story. This is a non-fictional story, that's not actually a non-fictional story. The scenery, the imagery, the connection between his characters was so profound. This is a masterpiece. I'm floored. ...more
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, canadian-lit
Wow! Great little book!
Canadian Indigenous author, Richard Wagamese's 'Medicine Walk' is a powerful, moving story of 16 year old Franklin Starlight's struggle with identity and forgiveness. Frank's estranged, dying, alcoholic father has one request of the boy. That he take him into the backwoods country of the B.C. Interior and bury him in the Obijwe warrior tradition.
It is a 'walk' of discovery, of redemption, and of closure. Powerful medicine.
With evocative prose and sparse meaningful dialogu
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
Beautifully written sad story.
Canadian author Richard Wagamese manages to slow our heart rate down with this story of an Ojibwe Indian who lost his bearings, and about an old man and a boy living on a farm carved out of the wilderness. Stories told and listened to form the heart of this novel: one feels sure that if only there were enough stories, things might have turned out differently. But in the end, the larger story—the story of this novel—lets us know that life encompasses both the tragic and the magnificent and to kno ...more
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Play Book Tag: Medicine Walk - Wagamese - 5 stars 6 15 Nov 30, 2018 03:18PM  
Amnesty Internati...: November/December 2017 - Readers' Choice: Medicine Walk 11 47 Dec 26, 2017 06:26PM  
Goodreads Librari...: incorrect page number 3 15 Jun 13, 2016 12:00AM  
Brantford Public ...: FRANKLIN'S Peace of MInd 3 27 Nov 20, 2014 09:12AM  
Brantford Public ...: PACING - Wagamese style 4 33 Nov 16, 2014 02:12PM  

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Richard Wagamese was one of Canada's foremost Native authors and storytellers. He worked as a professional writer since 1979. He was a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer and the author of twelve titles from major Canadian publishers.


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“She only nodded. "It's all we are in the end. Our stories.” 18 likes
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