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Keeper'n Me

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,280 ratings  ·  160 reviews
When Garnet Raven was three years old, he was taken from his home on an Ojibway Indian reserve and placed in a series of foster homes. Having reached his mid-teens, he escapes at the first available opportunity, only to find himself cast adrift on the streets of the big city.

Having skirted the urban underbelly once too often by age 20, he finds himself thrown in jail. Whil
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 1st 1994 by Anchor Canada
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  1,280 ratings  ·  160 reviews

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Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Stepping outside in these colder shortened days I notice that the migratory birds have changed places. And just like these birds this is a story of a man’s migration. Birds know when it is time to move on, expand their horizons and find their way into new possibilities. A man travels many roads stopping along the way in search of warmth, belonging and identity. At times he moves with loud reckless abandon and then, he learns to move quietly and unobtrusively across the landscape of his people. K ...more
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: canada, 20th-century
There is an artlessness, a certain tender naiveté that runs through this book that makes it a worthwhile read. This is Wagamese's first novel and all the themes and motifs that he would later come to address, to better effect in this later works, One Native Life for instance, show their burgeoning here.

The path is familiar: once again, a young native man torn from his culture re-enters his aboriginal world and begins to find himself. In this novel, his mentor, Keeper, is his guide, helping him
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have read many reviews of this book in which the reader either loved or hated this book. I have seen many denigrate it due to the lack of plot, unlikable characters and difficult to read dialect and I disagree with all of those reviews. It's important to read more than just the "great American novel"paradigm. To me, this book was a story of healing, a story of connecting with your roots, of connecting with the natural world. A " stop and smell the roses" reminder which we need in this is fast ...more
Lorina Stephens
Nov 19, 2014 rated it liked it
It is difficult to offer literary comment on a novel which is, in fact, the first published by Richard Wagamese, and second all but autobiographical.

Certainly if one were to study Wagamese's work it would be easy to identify the promising talent of an emerging author with this his first published work. Keeper'n Me offers a great deal to the canon of Canadian literature. There is a deft handling of the idiom of language and dialect. He does create evocative images and settings. Wagamese certainly
There is a fantastic short story in Keeper'n Me. It's somewhere around page 260 if you're able to make it that far. It's a story good enough to be published in the New Yorker or a similarly legendary publisher of short fiction. The only problem is that Keeper'n Me is a 300+ page novel that is otherwise excruciating.

So here's the one reason to read the book:

1. The great short story.

And here are the five most important reasons to avoid Keeper'n Me like you'd avoid a skint friend who needs $1000
Cheyenne Ogemah
Nov 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essay Response by: Cheyenne Ogemah
Wabaseemoong School, Ontario
Grade: 11
NBE3C Comtemporary Aboriginal Voices

The Traditions, Silence, and Life Within

Everyone has new things to listen and learn from on a daily basis. Silence is important in both, but to ask questions is more important. To be thankful for the life we live is greater. In Richard Wagamese’s novel, Keeper ‘N Me, it teaches about the importance of learning, listening, silence, and every life within the land of the Ojibwe people.

Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My daughter gave me this book to read because I had rattled on so effusively about Joseph Boyden and Louise Erdrich's skills with story telling and the perspectives they offer in their stories. I am VERY happy she did! This book has left me feeling - and let's be honest, all books leave us with stirred up feelings of some sort - as though I have been given a gift. It is a beautiful book full of wise, gentle, and loving knowledge.

Richard Wagamese has taken a story that readers would expect could
I finally finished Keeper’n Me. It has been on my possibility reading list for ages as Richard Wagamese is one of my favourite authors. Keeper’n Me was the author’s first novel published 24 years before I wrote this review.

Once I started to read the book, I took my time. The longer reading time had more to do with my savouring the book than not enjoying it. In addition, there was a lot of dialogue in the book, a great deal being slang and the use words spelt phonetically. This combination of dia
Stephanie Kelcey
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was such a beautifully written book. It was filled with so many tidbits of profound truth, honesty, and simplicity. I really didn't want it to end because I felt like reading it, having a glimpse into that reality, made me better.

Richard Wagamese passed away while I was reading this. I hope he's flying with the eagles now. XO
Sue Smith
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is wonderfully hilarious. It's a testament to inner spirit and the fundamental truth of finding yourself within the roots of family and traditions - when all odds are seemingly against it.

Having very distant Cree in my family made this book a little more close to my heart as it somehow resonated within me - the unbreakable family ties and the family love and the sense of humor to get you through those days that seem interminably grey and sad. Not to mention the 'papoose telegraph' tha
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for my upcoming book club in September. It was a quick and enjoyable read. Seems like a lot of the books I've read lately have related to how I'm feeling about losing my Mum. Keeper 'n Me was a story about a man re-discovering himself as a native after being raised in white foster homes. All the connections he makes between the earth and nature and human life made so much sense to me with how I'm feeling.
Nice book!
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
About a young Ojibwe man stolen from his family in the 60’s scoop (google it), and raised in foster care away from his territory, culture, parents, and siblings, who returns home to his surviving family after a stay in prison, is a story that I understand to be largely autobiographical. The book explores the relationship between Garnet Raven, and Keeper, a recently sober Elder, who helps him find tradition and walk the red road. This book is a sweet book, and as it was told through the two narra ...more
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A lot of wisdom in this book that I will take with me. Some particular takeaways; trust yourself and lead with your heart, connecting with your family (including your ancestors), community and the land will fill you up more than anything else can.
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
For all its failings as a novel (lack of conflict, lack of plot, lack of relevant action, lack of subtlety, lack of likable characters) Keeper'n Me is a good sermon. It is politically correct and spiritually uplifting. What it lacks in romance, it excels in ritual to the point of becoming an interminable infomercial. Bursting at the seams with folk humour and wisdom, it teeters on the edge of parody, something the badly maligned (by Wagamese) CBC pulled off so much better with its "Dead Dog Cafe ...more
John Benson
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up as a used book while visiting my daughter in Sudbury, Ontario. I have really enjoyed several of Richard Wagamese's other novels. This was his first novel and is a somewhat autobiographical novel. Both Richard and the narrator lost their native connections as children when they were placed in foster care. The novel tells of a young boy who fled the foster care system at 16, led a nomadic lifestyle for about 5 years and eventually ending up in prison. He had formed a connection wi ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm not the first reviewer to note that as Wagamese's first novel, this is very much a case of a writer (with potential) learning their trade - and if I'm being honest I somewhat regret not giving those reviews greater heed, as "Keeper'n Me" became quite a tedious read by the end. The first 80 pages or so contain a genuinely interesting story, and made me really want to give this 3 stars at least. But Wagamese basically resolves the entire conflict by the end of Book 1 (of 4). The remaining 130 ...more
Dec 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-for-school
I don't think I've ever disliked a book more than this one. Can I give a 0 star rating? There was absolutely no appeal to it whatsoever. So I'll sum it up in 3 simple points.
3) The plot was boring.
2) The characters weren't loveable or memorable
1) The grammar drove me insane!
I don't care if it's done on purpose to mimic their normal dialect. If a book ends up published, there shouldn't be an overwhelming amount of spelling errors. The sentences should also make sense.
This book is painful to rea
Liz Jansen
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another outstanding story from Richard Wagamese. Most of the story takes place on a remote reservation in Northern Ontario.Steeped in Ojibway culture, its teachings are universal and its message timeless.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aboriginal
I really enjoyed this vision of life on an Ojibway reserve in Northern Ontario. Garnet Raven returns "home" after being placed in foster homes at age 3. After 20 years he learns who he is and where he came from. Strongly recommended if you are interested.
Denise Bloomfield
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Truly inspirational, I will revisit it often. The red road is a spiritual journey that is very appealing to me. Wagamese is a master in the art of story telling.
Paul Weiss
Richard Wagamese was paying close attention when Keeper spoke of the importance of story-telling!

Garnet Raven (almost certainly an autobiographical stand-in for Wagamese himself) was born in northern Ontario, a baby of the land, a baby of the people, Anishinabe. Even as an infant, his grandfather and father had already told him that the bear was his brother, that he “didn’t have to be afraid of him. Same thing with fox, raccoon, weasel, … same thing with water, tree rock, fish, everythin’ out th
Rod Raglin
Aug 02, 2019 rated it liked it

The first third of Keeper ‘n Me details the life of Garnet Raven who was taken from his Objibway parents when he was three years old and raised in non-native foster homes.
He grows up never knowing who or where his real family is and his search for identity and belonging are authentic and poignant.
Like so many First Nations people from similar backgrounds, his dysfunctional life inevitably finds him in prison where he is contacted by someone who says he’s his brother. Indeed, he has an entire fa
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indigenous
A sweet, funny book. Although it starts with the sad story of Ojibway boy Garnet Raven being taken away from his family and growing up in foster care estranged from his community and culture, at the age of 20 he is reunited with his family. Most of the story takes place over the year and a half after this reunion.

The story's slow pace might be difficult for some, as this is kind of a thinky, spiritual book. But, if like Garnet Raven, you're willing to embrace the journey, there is a lot to be le
Apr 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Richard Wagamese's story is solid and strong and I think I could have enjoyed this book much better had I not listened to the audio. This is the story of Garnet Raven who was taken from his home on an Ojibway Indian reserve and placed in a series of foster homes at the age of three. Having reached his mid-teens, he escapes at the first available opportunity, only to find himself cast lost both physically and culturally in Toronto.
Fast forward, Garnet finds his family and reunites with them on th
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
“Funny how something as simple as a drum can unlock the universe for you once you get taught how to look at it.” This book is one of Richard Wagamese’s older novels, (it was written in 1994,) but his writing style remains the same. I know how similar this story is to the author’s because of reading One Native Life. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as his more recent works, but it’s a perfect example of how writers grow with practice.
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My first novel from Richard Wagamese, and I loved it. I learned so much as a reader about being Ojibwe and having travelled from powwow to powwow I could really picture White Dog. Garnet describes reconnecting to your community after being city raised very honestly plus the complementary narrative from Keeper balanced the plot of the story. I'm only sorry I didnt read it sooner.
A compassionate and restorative book about the healing power of a loving family. Garnet Raven is only three when foster care takes him and his siblings from their home on an Ojibway reserve. He is later separated even from them and spends his youth with a series of apathetic foster families, of whom the only good thing to say is that they aren't actually abusive. Garnet runs away in his mid teens and ends up alone on the streets of Toronto. From there it's only a short hop to jail time. Five yea ...more
Liz Jarnicki
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
He's good.
❀ Susan G
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads

“See the important thing about our stories isn’t so much the listening, it’s the time you spend thinking about them. There’s lots of traditional thinking buried deep within each story and the longer you spend thinking about it the more you learn about yourself, your people and the Indian way”.

Canada lost a national treasure, a storyteller who infused his writing with his heart, his soul and his lived experiences. If you have not already enjoyed The Medicin
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
i listened to the audio book and the narrators were perfect!
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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.

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“See, when we get sent out into the world we come here carryin' two sets of gifts. The gifts of the father an' gifts of the mother. The two human bein's that made our life. We came here carryin' those two sets of gifts, each one equal to the other. But sometimes the world gets hold of us and makes us see diff'rent way. We get told as men that we gotta be strong, gotta be fearless. Lotta us kinda start ignorin' the gifts of our mother. Go through life just usin' gifts of our father. Bein' tough, makin' our own plans, livin' in the head. But if you do that you can't be wholee on accounta you gotta use both of them equal setsa gifts to live right, to fill out the circle of your own life. Be complete. Gotta use the mother's gifts too. Like gentleness an' nurturin' livin' in the heart.” 5 likes
“That's what's important really, Keeper says. Learning how to be what the Creator created you to be. Face your truth.” 5 likes
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