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The Spawning Grounds

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  396 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
The long-awaited new novel by the two-time Giller-shortlisted author is full of the qualities Gail Anderson-Dargatz's fans love: it's an intimate family saga rooted in the Thompson-Shuswap region of British Columbia, and saturated with the history of the place. A bold new story that bridges Native and white cultures across a bend in a river where the salmon run.

On one side
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Knopf Canada
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With "The Spawning Grounds", Gail Anderson-Dargatz has written a masterpiece of a novel which has her joining the ranks of Isabel Allende and Alice Hoffman, in the realm of magical realism. Without a doubt it is her best novel to date.

Lightening River is the fictional setting for this powerful novel, on an old homestead near Shuswap Lakes and River, British Columbia, Canada which do exist. The Robertson family settled there during the gold rush in 1860; Stewart Robertson, who has been raising h
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow, being from B.C., this novel has such a striking visual of the region. Gail Anderson-Dargatz is such a fluid writer and this one truly shows her intensity and experience.
Gail Anderson-Dargatz has her own unique style of magical realism which is both evocative and spell binding. The Spawning Grounds takes place in the interior of British Colombia like her other books The Cure For Death By Lightning and Turtle Valley and like The others, it combines realistic fiction with myth and happenings in nature that could be interpreted as magical or as real events.
This novel was inspired by a Shuswap, a Canadian First Nation, legend of the Last Salmon Boy, as well as the
This wonderful book is set in the Thompson-Shuswap region of British Columbia. This is a book about family tragedy, the dying river that is the spawning ground of sockeye salmon, and a culture clash of the First Nations and white developers.

Hannah is simply trying to help same the salmon in Lightning River but is faced with the near drowning of both her grandfather and brother. Her father also wanders back into their lives set on dismantling their family home and their fragile lives. There fragi
Heather Pearson
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
The Spawning Grounds is a sensitive look at the relationship between a First Nations Community and their white, farming neighbours. While Stew is set to sell his farm to developers, the Secwepenc (Shuswap) community is protesting the encroaching development.

The cultural and spiritual differences of the two groups leads to troubles for both. At risk is the further destruction of the salmon spawning grounds which lie in the river between their settlements. If they could work together to find a wa
Lucio Vaccarello
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
A homage to the mysteries of love, ancient spirits, death and renewal and how they impact on a Canadian family (Robertsons) in south BC that is struggling to keep the land its ancestor, Eugene Robertson usurped from the local Shuswap tribe. It brings full circle the forces he set in play by not only taking the land from the Shuswap but also an extremely young female member as a bride - without second thought or permission.

The tragedy that befell the son of this unholy union seems to be playing o
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I would like to thank Knopf publishing & Goodreads for my complimentary copy of "The Spawning Grounds".

Such a wonderful story within a story that explores the relationship between people & Nature and it's horrific outcome all set in the extraordinary setting of Shuswap, B.C.-Canada! There's also a love story. The novel is narrated by a white female teenager whom wants to save the river & it's fish and save her dysfunctional family but first needs to understand and accept Native histo
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Thank you Goodreads and Gail Anderson-Dargatz for a free copy of this book. I enjoyed reading about the the salmon and the Shuswap. Being from Alberta and having several close relatives in BC we travel through the Shuswap area a few times every year.
We have visited two different spawning grounds, one in BC and the other in Alaska it was great to read about it in more detail.
The book had me interested right from the beginning, however found it a bit slow.
I really, really enjoyed this book. Set in south-central British Columbia, The Spawning Grounds tells the story of a First Nations community, their white neighbours and a mysterious river that connects them all. I was fascinated by the Native mythology weaved into the plot and I thought Anderson-Dargatz did a great job of highlighting the sacredness of nature. I look forward to reading more of her work in the near future.
Oct 23, 2016 added it
Shelves: 2016
Ok. All about place/setting for me. The struggle to preserve the natural world especially the salmon. Right in my own backyard - the Shuswap.
Sep 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The events take place near one of the spawning grounds of the sockeye salmon in British Columbia. The river, once teeming with fish, is dying, its flow reduced to a trickle because of erosion caused by human activities like ranching, logging and mining. The main characters, Hannah and Bran, are the descendants of Eugene Robertson, the first white settler to homestead in the area, “the first to take down trees on the thin strip of river plain; the first to put up fences; the first to water his li ...more
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was so much to appreciate in this novel by one of Canada's best-known authors: the description of the Shuswap area of beautiful British Columbia, where I also live; the clash between the First Nations community and the white farmers, facing each other down across the river; the natural majesty of the annual salmon spawning, which I have witnessed; the questions raised about the value of environment versus agriculture; and the central mystery of the plot -- is the teenaged boy Brandon menta ...more
Sarah Boon
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I found it a simplified version of a First Nations story - one that apparently isn't even true? I felt the story exploited the Shuswap people by having a white person write about a supposed First Nations myth. Angie Abdou talks about how she got permission from the Ktunaxa people to write a story about them ( Somehow I don't think Anderson-Dargatz sought that same permission from the Shuswap people.
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really didn't find this book to be anything to rave over.
Kelsi H
Jul 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Please read all of my reviews at!

This novel is set in the Thompson-Shuswap region of British Columbia, and it is saturated with the history of the place. Woven throughout with First Nations mythology and spirituality, it is at heart a family history that bridges the white and Native communities that reside on either side of a powerful river.

The story goes back generations to the arrival of a man named Eugene Robertson in 1860 – he came to the fictional Lightni
J.M. Bogart
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
We're all connected. As biological, emotional, and spiritual organisms living on this planet, everything we do creates ripples that reach beyond our perceived borders. The Spawning Grounds, by Gail Anderson-Dargatz, does more than highlight the connection between cultures, legends, and nature: it weaves together all the nuances and struggles of being human within the complicated framework of spirituality.

Raised by their grandfather on land settled by his English ancestors, Hannah and Brandon hav
Sherry Monger
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Spawning Grounds is a deeply mythical and mystical story of a clash between cultures, and it examines what constitutes progress for First Nations and for their white neighbours.
The river, once teeming with salmon, is dying because of the development of new housing, deforestation and farm animals. The salmon are no longer able to get upstream to their spawning grounds and have to carried in order to fulfill their destiny. First Nations people populate one side of the river and whites inhabit
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of The Spawning Grounds from Goodreads First Reads. I was hooked from page 1. I loved the Shuswap legends, the story of several generations of the Robertson family and the vivid description of the salmon making their way up river to the spawning ground. In the Spawning Grounds, Hannah Robertson is dealing with many issues. At the beginning of the book, she is helping the returning salmon trying to make their way to the spawning grounds in a dying river. Her grandfather and brot ...more
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gail Anderson-Dargatz's writing is simple and beautiful. She paints a beautiful picture of the Thompson-Shuswap region of British Columbia (an area that is itself beautiful and her writing does it full justice).

She touches on a lot of themes that are incredibly relevant to those living in British Columbia including the conflict between development and the environment (in the novel this is symbolized by a summer housing development but calls to my mind the current disputes over various pipelines)
Ruth Linka
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've always loved the way Gail Anderson-Dargatz can stretch our understanding of what is real, bend our expectations so we gain a better understanding of the world. In The Spawning Grounds the characters and the story are wonderful and transported me to a wild, green landscape. But, it was this landscape and the magical beings and events that we meet in the forest and in the river that is so spectacular. This book not only transported me to a river in the middle of BC where a very real conflict ...more
Jen Allore
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'll start off by saying I LOVE Gail AD books. Cure for Death By Lightening is one of my all time favourites, followed closely by Recipe for Bees and Rhinestone. Needless to say I was excited for this book! The storyline is fantastic! The idea of restless spirits and their mixing with our modern world is exactly why I love her books. But unfortunately, I found the writing in this to be somewhat immature somehow. The conversations between characters felt forced and rushed, and I didn't fall in lo ...more
Nov 05, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I like Gail Anderson-Dargatz's writing, but this book was creepy, and I don't like creepy. Also, I found it put-downable. I didn't really feel engaged with the storyline or with the characters.

As an Indigenous person, I'm also not sure how I feel about some of the elements in the story. Anderson-Dargatz tried to weave in First Nations oral tradition and beliefs, but it came off as more negative and threatening than it should, in my opinion.

The book has a
Teresa Reid
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. As an anthropology major in university, I've always had a weakness for aboriginal stories. The works of Thomson Highway, Thomas King, and others, I've found to be the most beautiful and moving tales. Having loved a cure for death by lightning for what, 20 years now, I was excited to read this novel. It did not disappoint. Mixing Canadiana with aboriginal tales, the metaphors and imagery are spectacular . The only thing I wasn't sure about was the use of the word Indian. In Canada, we ...more
Mandy O'Brien
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thank you for the advanced reader copy of The Spawning Grounds. This book was beautifully written and I couldn't put it down! Living in BC, I really appreciate the local flavour and learning more about another part of my province. The Cure for Death by Lightning has long been one of my favourite books and it's great to see a new novel by Gail Anderson-Dargatz. You can tell her writing has matured and this book was a real pleasure to read.
Jill Griffith
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I almost gave up and what a shame that would have been. Gail Anderson-Dargatz is one of my very favourite Canadian authors. As an Alberta girl who, like so many others, made annual summer treks through and to the Thompson -Okanagan region, Anderson-Dargatz makes me see to whom this land really belongs. This work of fiction, of magical realism, of the beauty of the environment the characters work so hard to protect or can't get out of their systems, is worth absorbing every page.
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anderson-Dargatz, in the Spawning Grounds, has written a beautiful story based in the Thompson-Shuswap region of BC. It is a gripping tale that bridges indigenous and white cultures across a bend in a river where the salmon run. She has interwoven the myths of the Shuswap culture with the scientific beliefs of the whites in such a way that you believe both sides. The drama draws you in and won't let you go until the story is finished.
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A love letter to Anderson's beloved BC, her latest book is part family saga, part environmental call to action, part First Nation myth come to life. The Spawning Grounds is full to bursting with magical realism and story. Fans of her previous books will enjoy the Easter Eggs throughout, even as the relationship between First Nations families and their corresponding white neighbours is often difficult and uncomfortably realistic.
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was the perfect addition to my fall reading list! I'm also really starting to wonder why I don't buy books out of Canada more often. I'm definitely going to put more effort into finding more.

I love that this book is set at the very border of a First Nations reserve, but that isn't necessarily the focus. It's just another layer of every day life. I also hadn't realized there was going to be an environmentalist aspect to this book, but loved that as well.
Chris devine
Aug 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
This was an ok book to read, something to pass the time.It's very spiritual, dealing with spirits and native folklore, so if you're a religious person you would probably like this alot more than I did.The writing is pretty good, and the characters are fleshed out enough that you get drawn into the story.

I got this book from a goodreads giveaway.
Anne Derkat
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I won this book from Goodreads and it had me hooked from the first page.

It's the story of Hannah, a young girl living in the Shuswap region of BC and of her family and it's ties to the river and the natives on the other side of the river. It's a historical saga with mystical overtones and a totally riveting story that keeps you hooked to the end.,
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Evergreen Summer ...: What's In a Name? 1 3 Aug 05, 2017 12:28PM  
Gail's new novel The Spawning Grounds will be published by Knopf Canada in September 2016.

Her novels The Cure for Death by Lighting and A Recipe for Bees were international bestsellers, and were both finalists for the prestigious Giller Prize in Canada. The Cure for Death by Lightning won the UK’s Betty Trask Prize among other awards. A Rhinestone Button was a national bestseller in Canada and Ga

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