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Gabriel's Story

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  28 reviews
When Gabriel Lynch moves with his mother and brother from a brownstone in Baltimore to a dirt-floor hovel on a homestead in Kansas, he is not pleased. He does not dislike his new stepfather, a former slave, but he has no desire to submit to a life of drudgery and toil on the untamed prairie. So he joins up with a motley crew headed for Texas only to be sucked into an ever- ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 30th 2002 by Anchor (first published January 16th 2001)
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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  214 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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This was a random library selection. The cover had a kind of bleakness that appealed to me, and so I decided to go ahead and check it out. I didn't know what it was about, but I'm willing to take a chance - you never know when a random book might end up wowing you.

Unfortunately, this one wasn't one of those for me. The first bit was great. The language and the descriptions and the way that Gabriel was described as having an anger that manifested itself in silence... it was beautiful and I thoug
Nicholas Gourlay
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone that can read.
This novel is a brutally wonderful piece of literature about post-civil war wild west, the hostility and confusion of mankind, the lack of faith and the abundance of promise is all very relevant. This is a very engrossing read and I couldn't help my fingers from itching to turn the next page.

Gabriel’s Story is very powerful, wonderfully deep and constantly moving.

Aliyah Asel
Jan 08, 2016 rated it liked it
While this book is not a book I would read for pleasure, I did enjoy it as a book for school. Durham's style is reflected throughout the book in his descriptions of setting and the personification of his characters. He is very detail oriented and descriptive. Gabriel is a three dimensional character who expertly exemplifies the battle between moral pressures and societal expectations. When he is uprooted from his family's home in Baltimore and thrust into a new life in whitewashed Kansas, he bec ...more
Mary Heather
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book having just taken a writing class from the author, not really knowing what it was about. I was thrilled to discover that it is a historical Western with actual diversity in the characters that really reflects the West at the time - I love Western movies but the lack of diversity in them is a HUGE pet peeve of mine so this book had my attention right away for telling a coming of age story in the West through the lens of a young black man. I couldn't put this book down. I love the ...more
Aug 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: western, audio
Despite a rather slow start and Gabriel being a pretty unlikable character in the beginning, this ended up being a coming-of-age Western novel that I really liked.

It begins with Gabriel, his brother Ben, and their mother traveling to the Kansas plains to meet up with the boys' new step-father. Gabriel resents his mother remarrying and the move west. When his father was alive, Gabriel believed he was on track to become a rare thing, a black doctor. Now he's facing a life of busting sod to grow cr
I truly enjoyed this novel by David Anthony Durham. I have read other books by him which I LOVED so I should not be surprised by finding that I liked the book. It is a western tale and I usually would not touch a western but I chose this book for my book club book so I had to read it. The story is about a teenage boy named Gabriel living at the time after the Civil War. His mother was a former slave and married his father who lived in the North. The father did well for himself and his family and ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mary by: a friend
Oh what a journey! The widowed mother of Gabriel Lynch remarries and the family is moved from the sweet setting of a brownstone to the harsh lands of Kansas. Gabriel hates his new home, which is practically leaning and falling down at its seams, and the land he is forced to help till. He equally dislikes the man his mother marries, who unlike Gabriel's father, was a former slave. Gabriel goes off, into the wild wild west of a blue yonder with some rather rambunctious outlaws in search of somethi ...more
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
During post civil war, African American Gabriel, his brother and mother moved west (Kansas) to his mother's new husband, Solomon. Instead of a town and civilizaton, they found themselves on a homestead, living in a sod house. Gabriel resented Solomon and the hard work he did plowing the hard prairie sod with a mule. At first chance, Gabriel and his friend, James, joined in with a group of cowboys who had brought a herd into the town for sale. Instead of just herding cattle, the boys found that t ...more
Jul 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
1870 - American West - young boys and their journey... Except this isn't your usual Western tale with romanticized cowboys and rowdy times in the saloons. The story is unrelenting in its depictions of senseless violence, racism, sexism, the trials of homesteading and the dangers faced by two young Af-Am boys traveling with strangers, far from home. The sense that their lives are not in their control comes across so poignantly that the story is hard to listen to at times. And yet, there are eleme ...more
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s shortly after the Civil War and fifteen-year-old Gabriel Lynch is not ready to settle down with his mother and new stepfather on a hardscrabble farm in Kansas. Instead he joins up with a group of cowboys headed for Texas. It is then trial by fire for Gabriel as he grows up on the road, witnessing the horrors and violence of the old west. This debut novel from Durham is a coming-of-age tale with elements of Blood Meridian and Lonesome Dove except with an African-American cast of characters. ...more
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I tried to read this book about a year ago and really could not get the pages turning, but I recently picked it up again. That is how I am, if I don't jive with a book the first time and always make my way back and try again. Most the time I am pleasantly surprised and what I find and amazed that I could get into the book the first time. This book was no exception.

Loved the writing style The characters really surprised me and they did not become the people I pictured them being in my mind. I gu
May 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
I didn't find this book 'fascinating' as so many other reviewers did. It felt fake and foolish to me, and not at all historically accurate; but perhaps it is and I just don't know my American/cowboy history well enough. The language seemed contrived at worst and forced at best. There was very little conversation/dialogue, but was mostly told by a 3rd-person narrator. It was often difficult to distinguish which character the author was talking about, and the regular face type vs. the italic face ...more
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it

I didn't like this book at first. It went from dreary and depressing to coarse and brutal, but I just couldn't stop reading and leave the characters in a dismal situation. I'm glad I persevered. The characters and plot developed in ways I didn't anticipate, with an ending that provided resolution. It's a very deep and vivid story both in terms of the characters involved and the western settings.
Liz M
Jan 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was a superbly written book, well-paced. Durham doesn't lose his style and rhythm as so many writers do from the beginning to end. It's pretty violent and gruesome, but has a happy ending. I usually don't like happy endings because they're so predictable, but you're not sure how this one's going to end up 'til the last bit. Well, if you read this, then maybe I've spoiled it for you.
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
The majority of this book is about a 15 year-old boy witnessing a bunch of cowboys he is riding with murder, maim, and rape...without protest on his part. In the end, after nearly drowning, he decides to go home. Spare me!!!
If you really want to read a great book about blacks pioneering the West, read "The Personal Story of Rachel DuPree" by Ann Weisgarber.
Dec 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
15 yr old Gabriel moves out west from Baltimore to start a new life in a sod house with a new stepfather, uncle and his younger brother. They are black and Gabriel thinks farming is beneath him. He and a friend take a chance to get away and have an adventure that takes them far. Things get worse, the landscape beautiful, great characters. In the genre of "All the Pretty Horses".
Mary Jane
Aug 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Nice coming of age story set in the sod-buster days of the great plains and old west, told from an African American perspective. Very evocative descriptions of location and period. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
While not a novel that I would normally have picked up were I not simply trawling through the library looking for something to read, I found it engaging and illustrative of a history that I had hardly considered.
May 25, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a 3.5 star read. David Anthony Durham crafts a compelling narrative that can be summed in an early quote, "'Ye cannot escape God's laws, God's sight, God's blessing, and God's judgment.'"
Nov 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
So good on so many levels!
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
A very different coming-of-age story. Themes of good vs. evil, the grass is greener, etc. Ending was quite tense. Enjoyed it.
Jinx Landis
Jun 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Some brutality in this tale set in the wild west but a good story.
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's a western. A great little western. Read it.
Nov 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written book set in the time of slavery in America. I didn't know a lot about this time, but Durham made it very much alive for me.
Casey Redington
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Jun 30, 2009
D. Pow
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Aug 22, 2009
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Dec 30, 2009
Cristina Carrington
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Aug 12, 2015
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David Anthony Durham was born in New York City to parents of Caribbean descent. He grew up mostly in Maryland, but has spent the last fifteen years on the move, jumping from East to West Coast to the Rocky Mountains, and back and forth to Scotland and France several times. He currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Or... actually, no he doesn't. He's back in New England at the moment.

He is the aut