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Two Roads

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  163 ratings  ·  47 reviews
A boy discovers his Native American heritage in this Depression-era tale of identity and friendship by the author of Code Talker

It's 1932, and twelve-year-old Cal Black and his Pop have been riding the rails for years after losing their farm in the Great Depression. Cal likes being a "knight of the road" with Pop, even if they're broke. But then Pop has to go to
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Dial Books
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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A longer post today, and even then if feels inadequate. Bruchac tackles a lot of history and cultural conversation in this slim novel set in a single year. I don’t often read books that are or are similar to biographies, and this felt like I was listening to an elder telling stories. It's written for middle graders, but I'm going to recommend it to my dad who, like Cal's dad, supplemented my Oklahoma History homework with our own oral histories.
Joseph Bruchac’s Two Roads will come across to
Leonard Kim
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Reads less like a historical novel of road and boarding school life in the 1930s and more like a lyrical chivalric romance (the protagonist repeatedly refers to himself and other hobos as “knights of the road”). Feels old-fashioned in that regard: there’s hardly a female character in sight, and the protagonists are characterized by ability and honor and fraternity. Such a masculine ideal is deservedly met with more skepticism these days, and yet a child could do worse than Cal for a ...more
Packed full of carefully researched historical detail while not sacrificing readability, Bruchac tells a heartfelt story about Depression-era U.S.A., hobo life, and facets of the Indigenous experience, including Indian boarding schools post the Meriam Report. A story about boys and men (main character Cal travels the roads with his dad after the death of his mother, and the Indian boarding school is sex-segregated), few women appear here-- but there is so much sensitivity, emotion, and ...more
Knowing Bruchac as a local Native American author makes it doubly wonderful when you read a book as well characterized and plotted as this. Cal and his father, a veteran are hoboes, working for their measly earnings around the country. But Cal didn’t know that his father was a Creek Indian. His Armenian mother sent west on an orphan train and his dad decided to raise him as if he was white. To make things easier. Yet know his dad wants to march and protest on Washington for earnings from the war ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teens
Two Roads is an excellent (and refreshingly clean) book for 12 and up by Joseph Bruchac about Cal, a young boy traveling as a "Gentleman of the Road" with his father, Will, during the Great Depression. In order to take care of some business, Will must leave Cal behind--temporarily--at an Indian boarding school. Cal understands his father's decision, yet he knows nothing of being about being a Creek (which had been concealed from him) and yearns to stay with his father, his last living relative.

Shauna Yusko
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Portrays a little represented part of history.

I’m not sure the story holds the interest of intended audience.

“Big reveal” on page 84 not real a big reveal if you’ve read the cover. There’s just no dramatic tension.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Twelve-year-old Cal Black and his father have been Knights of the Open Road since his mom died and the bank foreclosed on their Kansas farm two years ago. Cal loves the adventure of railroad hopping, sleeping under the stars, and the freedom of the open road, but when his pop hears news about a bonus army of WWI vets gathering in Washington D.C. to collect their promised bonus money, things are about to change. Pop wants to join the bonus army and hopes that in collecting his money, they can buy ...more
Sandra Porter
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it
MS/HS, coming of age, historical fiction
I liked this book, however, if a student is looking for some exciting action, this is not it. It is a narrative that takes you on a journey of a teen-age Creek boy as he is figuring out life. Cal and his father are "riding the rails" after losing the family farm. Cal's dad is a WWI veteran and is hoping to get his promised war bonus. (true historical fact). When dad drops Cal off at an Indian school and tells Cal that he is half Creek Indian, Cal is lost
Dec 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is important for sharing pieces of history that aren’t widely known. Such as the history of government-funded Native American boarding schools. In theory, these schools were supposed to force Native American children to conform to white culture so they would be less of a threat to white-people ambitions, like capitalism. But in reality, the schools often helped kids to form and embrace their Native American identities just by giving them the opportunity to live with so many of their ...more
Mary Garrett
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
delivers some history of veterans' march on D.C., depression Hoovervilles, and Indian schools along with a great story. It’s YA, but we're all young at heart, with much to learn.

“Decide your own life, don’t let another person run or rule you.”
“You shake hands like someone who trusts the other and doesn’t have to prove he’s better. That’s an Indian handshake.”
“I grew up just thinking of myself as a person. Being white means you have the luxury to do that.”
“Ain’t no word
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-ya
Cal and his father is a hobo through no fault of their own. After World War I followed by the Depression, returning soldiers had a hard time of it many becoming jobless and in turn homeless. Such is the fate of this father/son duo. Survival meant figuring out the culture of riding the rails. Cal is left at an Indian School while his father rides to Washington D.C. to march for the bonus that the government was supposed to give to the soldiers but never did. When this separation occurs, Cal finds ...more
Linda Owen
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
A wonderful historical novel set in the 1930's. The main character, Cal Black/Blackbird is riding the rails with his father after they lost their farm early on in the Depression. Cal enjoys the hobo life, but his father has read about the Bonus March of WWI vets on Washington, asking for Hoover and the government to pay them their promised bonuses. He decides to join the other veterans, so he tells Cal that he is, in fact, a Creek Indian, which makes Cal eligible for attendance at Challagi ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cal Black and his dad have been riding the rails since they lost their farm to the Depression. Hoboes, they adhere to the “knights of the road” code of honor. It’s an enormous shock when Pop reveals he’s a Creek Indian and has decided to send Cal to the Challagi School for Native Americans. Bruchac has written other moving novels about the draconian life of the Indian schools. Here, he explores how students of different tribes came together to discover and confirm their pan-Indian identity. ...more
Corinne Wilson
3.5 stars. This book covers a lot of rarely told history: the Bonus army who gathered at Washington to demand the money promised them after WW1, the diversity in Indian boarding schools and the bonding between boys that kept generations coming back despite the subpar education, the ethical code of the hobo (not to be confused with tramps or bums). It might not be fast paced enough for some tweens, but it's a solid read.

What I really enjoyed, though, was the relationship between father and son.
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
We meet Cal (main character) and his father as they travel around the country as hobos (“knights of the road”) during the Depression having lost their farm. Carl’s Dad is a veteran of WWI and a Creek Indian (the second of these Cal learns as Pop reveals it taking Cal to an Indian boarding school). I learned a lot about the plight of WWI veterans and their demonstrations on Washington DC, trying to secure promised bonuses. Cal struggles with his own identity as he embraces the hobos’ code of ...more
Jenny Staller
Cal Black and his father are "knights of the road" (commonly known as hobos) during the Great Depression. They never stay in one place very long, but they live by a strict code and have high standards for how they treat people they encounter and their surroundings. Cal learns

This was a character-focused novel and I really enjoyed how well rounded Cal and his father were. I felt like the plot was slow and there wasn't a lot of big action, which didn't bother me but does make me think that my
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
After losing their home in the Great Depression, Cal and his father ride the rails in search of work. When Pop learns that WWI veterans plan to march on Washington to claim their service checks, he plans to join them – but first reveals his Creek Indian heritage to Cal, then places him in a boarding school for Native Americans. Bruchac’s middle reader, set during a fascinating time in American history, teaches lessons of respect, identity, and friendship - all while telling a well-paced, ...more
Judy E.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cal Black and his father (a WW I veteran) are hoboes in 1932, hopping the rails and working when they can. When Cal’s father wants to travel to Washington DC to join the “ Bonus Army" gathering there, he reveals that his full name is Will Blackbird , and that both of them are part of the Creek nation. Cal has never known that he was Indian, and when his father takes him to an Indian School, Cal finds himself immersed in a culture about which he knows nothing. Author Joseph Bruchac writes a good ...more
Includes an afterword which briefly addresses Hoovervilles, the great depression, and Indian boarding schools. Cal experiences all these things.

The book addresses how people lived during this time period. It brings into light an under known piece of history - the Bonus Army, a protest of WWI veterans which Hoover handled badly. It's amazing that only 2 men were killed.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: youth
Excellent book, historical fiction--1932, Native American perspective, grades 5-9. This book is great for several reasons: gives you a narrative from a Creek perspective, fills you in on hoboes, Indian Boarding School, and the "Bonus Army" of homeless WWI vets camping out in DC in peaceful protest, asking Hoover and the legislature to give them their promised bonuses for serving in the war. Very likeable characters, great author's note at the end. Happy ending, clean, a little violence.
Kelly K
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This is one of those children's books that would best be appreciated by adults. Focusing on a nearly teenage boy and his father riding the rails during the Great Depression, his WWI veteran father goes off to Washington DC to participate in the Bonus Army while he is left at a Native Indian boarding school. This was a unique perspective on a coming of age story.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well-done middle grade book set in 1932 that covers a lot of ground for so slender a book--Dust Bowl, Depression, WWI veteran complaints and the march on Washington, prejudice against blacks and Native Americans, "Indian schools", hobo life--it was a busy book! The only part that felt rushed, though, was the very end. If not for that this would be a solid 5 star.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
I had not been aware of the events depicted in this book, so it was interesting to read about the march on Washington by WWI veterans. I was a little disappointed that more of the book was not focused on Cal's time at school, but overall this was a satisfying read. The writing flows really well and Cal's story is intriguing.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating look at how WWI veterans were treated during the Great Depression, life on the rails as a Hobo (or knight of the road), and at the later years of the Indian Boarding Schools. Not only did I learn a ton, but it was an absorbing read as well. I'd love to see a sequel. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up.
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Time 1932 -father & son are hobo's for they have lost the woman of their life & their farm. Father is a WWI veteran who hears about the "Bonus Army" , so to keep his son safe while he goes to Washington DC he places his son in a Indian boarding school until he can come back for him. Read about the adventures both experience.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great character driven book. I especially loved the depth and feeling of Cal’s memories of his mom. This book gave me so many new insights into Native American history and culture that were eye opening. Definitely recommend.

There’s so much about this book that I’d like to discuss in more depth than this review allows for. Someone please read it so we can talk about it!
Shaheen Vadpey
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
First off, I want all people to recognize that this book is a thorough read, and so make sure you are the proper audience for this book. If you are looking for a "semi-historical, fictional" read, this should be your go-to. I personally didn't rate this 5 stars due to it not being my type of book, but otherwise, this book would be great!
Ms. Yingling
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
ARC from Follett First Look

Very interesting look at the Great Depression and Native American (Creek) history. Size of text and general philosophical tones pushes this a bit towards the YA side. The bit about the history of sneakers was an inspired addition!
Kristi Bell
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Clean book about a boy and his father that are hobos and part-Indian.
Actually 3 1/2 stars....Set in 1932, Cal and his father, who is a WWI vet, go across the US via train car to look for a new start.
Cecilia Rodriguez
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The story is set in 1932 and narrated by Cal Black(Blackbird).
Bruchac incorporates actual historical events into his story.
A good book to read around Veteran's Day.
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Joseph Bruchac lives with his wife, Carol, in the Adirondack mountain foothills town of Greenfield Center, New York, in the same house where his maternal grandparents raised him. Much of his writing draws on that land and his Abenaki ancestry. Although his American Indian heritage is only one part of an ethnic background that includes Slovak and English blood, those Native roots are the ones by ...more
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