Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Medicine Walk” as Want to Read:
Medicine Walk
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Medicine Walk

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  6,112 ratings  ·  885 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Medicine Walk, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,112 ratings  ·  885 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Medicine Walk
This is one that will stick with me for a long time. Eldon Starlight, a Canadian Ogibway American 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 ...more
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
Susan's Reviews
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautiful and emotionally true story! I loved this book.
This is a story 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 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.) Young Franklin is, to me, the symbol
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
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
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
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!
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.
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
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
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
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.
‘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
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
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
Beautifully written sad story.
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.
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
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
Friederike Knabe
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When Franklin Starlight is sixteen he receives a summons by his father to visit him urgently. He is surprised but also pleased. "Still, he is my dad" is his response to the old man on whose farm he has been living as long as he can remember. "Don't expect it to be pretty." The old man warns him, but then, he knows that it never was easy... He gets the horse ready for the one day ride to the town where his father lives...

Richard Wagemese's new novel, MEDICINE WALK, tells the story of Franklin, us
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, canada
The kid, the old man and the father. The kid lives with the old man, with whom he has a close relationship. "The old man taught him the word "guardian". It meant protector. It meant that as long as the old man was around there was nothing for him to be afraid of. It meant he was safe and cared for." It is the old man who lovingly teaches him every thing he needs or wants to know. In fact, what the old man teaches him is so much better than going to school where he is simply an unliked Indian.

Nov 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
It's difficult to listen to someone who's hurt you badly - who's broken a heart, crushed a dream, cut you down, shamed you. It takes a lot of effort to open up an ear after that; to hear a single word such a voice has to say. And if it happens that this person has hurt you repeatedly, over the course of many years, that resistance to listening slips over the transom of unwillingness and into distinct revulsion. Caution shoots through the entire enterprise. A heightened level of justifiable conce ...more
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
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-author
A marvelous story of love, regrets, learning to understand a person and finding Self. The characters of the old man, Franklin and his father are very well portrayed.
This is a melancholy story, poignantly told, with feeling and respect. I loved "the kid" (Franklin) and was glad that he had the old man in his life. God bless that old man.
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is only the second book by this author that I have read and I can already say that he has become one my favorites. I love his writing....his stories, his style, his wording, his characters and his messages. Wow. He has a way of getting my attention quickly.

I liked this book. It was almost 5 stars for me....really close. He paints a total picture. And one of my favorite narrators (Tom Stechschulte), narrated the audio.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • From the Ashes
  • Moon of the Crusted Snow
  • Through Black Spruce
  • The Orenda
  • Son of a Trickster
  • Three Day Road
  • Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City
  • The Back of the Turtle
  • The Marrow Thieves
  • 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality
  • A Mind Spread Out on the Ground
  • The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America
  • Medicine River
  • Empire of Wild
  • The Break
  • Crow Winter
  • Split Tooth
  • Trickster Drift
See similar books…
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.

News & Interviews

Space operas, magic, destiny, dystopia, aliens: There's a bit of something for everyone in 2020's latest offerings in science fiction and fantasy...
47 likes · 4 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“She only nodded. "It's all we are in the end. Our stories.” 12 likes
“Sometimes when things get taken away from you it feels like there's a hole at your centre where you can feel the wind blow through, that's sure.” 1 likes
More quotes…