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The Lesser Blessed

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  740 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
A fresh, funny look at growing up Native in the North, by award-winning author Richard Van Camp.

Larry is a Dogrib Indian growing up in the small northern town of Fort Simmer. His tongue, his hallucinations and his fantasies are hotter than the sun. At sixteen, he loves Iron Maiden, the North and Juliet Hope, the high school "tramp." When Johnny Beck, a Metis from Hay River
Paperback, 128 pages
Published April 6th 2004 by Douglas & McIntyre (first published 1996)
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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2011
The Lesser Blessed is set in the fictional town of Fort Simmer - based on Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories, a very harsh, bleak part of Canada. Seventeen-year-old Larry is a Dogrib (Tlicho) Indian (as is the author), living with his mother who's studying part-time to be a teacher. Tall and skinny and covered in burn scars under his clothes, he has a wildly active mind and a poet's tongue. When he becomes friends with Johnny Beck, a Métis boy recently arrived in town who already has a repu ...more
Cathy Olliffe-Webster
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've always been fascinated by Canada's far north and the people who live there, and this book paints what must be an honest picture of what it means to be there. This is a compelling, fast read. I was drawn to keep turning the pages, to see what happens next – but when I was done I went straight back to the beginning to read it again, only slower, because I wanted to savour Van Camp's fabulous words. This novel should be a Canadian classic and Van Camp should now be included alongside Canada's ...more
Gail Amendt
Sep 22, 2012 rated it liked it
I met Richard Van Camp recently at an early childhood education conference and decided I had to read his book. It is hard to believe that such a nice, funny man, and writer of beautiful children's books, could write such a raw, dark, disturbing novel. This coming of age story about a native teen growing up in the fictional town of Fort Simmer, NWT (based on Van Camp's home town of Fort Smith), deals with drugs, alcoholism, abuse, promiscuity and tragedy. It is not for the faint of heart, and def ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baltimore-race
Growing up is painful. Faces crack with acne, hormones blossom, and love singes and scars. Adolescence isn't easy, but I can only begin to imagine what it's like for a First Nations boy surrounded by alcoholism, drug addiction, shame, and dominating poverty.

Van Camp knows how to devastate. His images are so powerful I could feel Larry's fear, anguish, and naïve optimism. I cried out for every character through death, abuse, flames, overwhelming sexuality.

I felt like a rumpled piece of trash at
Bruna Miranda
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Uau. A história não chega a ser completamente original para mim, que já li uma boa quantidade de contemporâneos e YAs, mas ela definitivamente não é um clichê; o cenário e background cultural do Larry e todos os personagens torna tudo mais interessante. Nunca tinha lido um livro que se passe nos Northern Territories ou que envolvesse a cultura das First Nations e The Lesser Blessed conseguiu me mostrar uma pequena (mas suficiente) dose de cultura e tradição misturada com os dias de hoje do ponto ...more
May 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian-author, 2016
Larry is a sensitive teen growing up in a harsh environment. Alcohol and drug experimentation. Dances, fights and sex. Short disjointed chapters at the beginning make more sense on second reading. Some poetic passages and other blunt, violently brutal scenes and also low-brow funny dialogues between the characters.
Autumn Chrunik
4.5-5/5stars! Wow! I really enjoyed this book. I don't know what to say about it right now though. I need to think about it for a bit. Expect a review on the blog in a few days!
I enjoyed The Lesser Blessed, an original book and debut novel written by Richard Van Camp and published in 1996. It is the coming of age story of Larry, a teenage male of the Dogrib tribe in the North West Territories, Canada. The novel was later adapted and released as an independent film with the same name in 2012.

It was more of a young adult book than I was expecting and to some degree, it reminded me of an indigenous version of the television series Degrassi High. It was also raunchier than
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I didn't like how the narrative treated the female lead but I do think it's an important coming of age story.
Shawn Birss
Sometimes I when I finish a book I am reminded that this is the reason I even read books at all. This book is one of the most masterful pieces of fiction I have ever read or seen. This is a revelation. This is a masterpiece.

I met Richard Van Camp about six years ago, at the Strathcona Branch of the Edmonton Public Library. I used the library as an office, and sat in the same cubicle area almost every week day. Every few weeks, I would be there at the same time as Van Camp, who would be entertai
Sep 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
So I've been trying to think of a better word than "feverish" to describe the feeling of reading this book, because I think that word is trite and cliche.. but I really can't. It's fitting; especially because this book has a good amount of drug use and therefore drug-induced haziness and it thus feels kind of deluded and cloudy. Which is apt because, this is a book that deals with adolescence, which is fitting to be portrayed as being a confusing, disorienting, druggy, kind of time.

That style to
*~Lan Lan~*
This was a beautifully poetic story about a young Dogrib male trying to make it through this messed up world. This dark tale does deal with some very challenging topics, that contains a serious triggers for individuals who have dealt with either mental illness, drug abuse, or sexual assault.

What makes this short literary work amazing was the strong realism within the mind bending imagination constructed by the main character, Larry. At times it could be difficult to distinguish what was real and
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is now 20 years old but still a relevant book and in my opinion, a high school must read.
I really connected with Larry, who haunted by the past choices, dreams about about a classmates and eventually becomes with with the class rebel.

Scarred mentally and physically Larry must navigate through life pining for a girl, wishing his mom would make a commitment to her boyfriend and understanding his friend.

I really loved this book but my wish was that it had been longer as I wanted to know
Aug 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Richard Van Camp is not a widely-read author at this point in his developing literary career, but this short novel is a vivid, searing account of growing up native in rural Canada. I admire this book because of the unabashed intensity of the content and the clarity of the descriptions; the result is that it comes across as honest, unaffected, and tremendously powerful. The story is told from the point of the main character, Larry Sole, a teenager who is a member of the Dogrib Nation, and we see ...more
Garth Mailman
Turns out this novel involves high-school-aged teens in a community in Northern Canada. Added to the usual themes of coming of age, raging hormones, girls, sex, and parents are issues of gasoline sniffing, drugs, alcoholism, poverty, whitey vs native.

Told from the point of view of Larry, a Dogrib, the picture painted is not pretty. The narrative is violent, depressing, drug-filled, and despondent. Children grow up fast in this environment. We read about suicide rates in Northern communities, he
Amy LeBlanc
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had the pleasure of hearing Richard Van Camp speak after reading The Lesser Blessed. He has so many incredible stories to tell, only a small number of which he has written into his novels. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking book that I think will stay with me for years to come. It deals with alcohol and drug abuse, physical abuse, promiscuity and navigating high school years in a nuanced and powerful way. I'm amazed at how much this book made me feel in a little over one hundred pages. Look ...more
S.C. Jensen
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. This book left me feeling completely raw. It is painfully beautiful and heart-breakingly funny. I think what I took away most from The Lesser Blessed is Van Camp's obvious love of life. It is incredibly difficult to write about drugs and abuse in such a convincingly real and horrifying way and still leave the reader with a hopeful and positive feeling when they put down the book. And that was my experience. Beautiful.
Tamara Eaker
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book was the most honest, to the human nature, that I have read in a long time. I love of Richard Van Camp portrays the honest thoughts and emotions of a deeply wounded teen. Not every teen gets to live in a fantasy world, for they aren't vampires or werewolves. I like just how honest and raw this whole book is, up till the end. I would ,and have, recommended this book to others.
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Reading this was like staring into a vat of dark chocolate; hypnotizing and difficult not to fall into the void. Larry's meandering stories remind me of the infamous "cracked out" stories we passed amongst our friends in high school.
" I don't go to high school, I go to school high" is one of the many trite and beautiful one liners in the book. Bruce Campbell would be proud, sugar.
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
I read this book years ago. I remember liking it, but didn't remember much about it. This year, I saw the movie, which was fantastic. I decided to re-read the book and was so glad I did. It's a really wonderfully written and gutsy piece. I also have a greater appreciation for it since I went on vacation in the north this year.
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian, indigenous
My introduction to Richard Van Camp. His writing is accessible and honest, and despite the bleakness of growing up native in northern Canada, he keeps hope alive amidst the dark lives of his characters.
Imtiaz Taj
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best Canadian storytellers, and children book author. His novel is nothing but brilliant and tells the story that few of us are ever exposed to of a Dogrib teen growing up in a Northern town.
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: canadian, 2017
This is a book I feel that I should love but I just didn't. It was harsh and disturbing and while that was probably the intent, it didn't work for me. I enjoyed the main story more than the two short stories at the end. 2.5 stars.
Lea Storry
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. I lived in the North and Richard van Camp caught the atmosphere and environment perfectly. The book also gave me a peek (albeit fictional) into the lives of teens in small town NWT.
Kerry Clare
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really glad to be reading this book for the very first time. It's extraordinarily good.
Orion Ryder
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's beautiful and edgy and... it gets you to really be apart of Larry's story. Love the way its written.
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A successful counter-story for NWT Indigenous teens and a great read for anyone else.
Oct 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Like Sherman Alexie's _Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven_ mixed with _War Boy_ by Kief Hillsberry, mixed with _Catcher in the Rye_ mixed with Freaks and Geeks. I'm feeling it.
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A Dogrib (Tlicho) Dene from Fort Smith, NWT, Richard Van Camp is an internationally renowned storyteller and best-selling author. He is the author of the novel, The Lesser Blessed, a collection of short stories, Angel Wing Splash Pattern, and two children’s books with Cree artist, George Littlechild. His new baby book: Welcome Song for Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns is the official selection of the ...more
More about Richard Van Camp...