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Keeper'n Me

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  903 ratings  ·  108 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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Frances Macknight His character is developed through loneliness, abandonment, loss of family, culture, language. The essence of himself was established in his first…moreHis character is developed through loneliness, abandonment, loss of family, culture, language. The essence of himself was established in his first three years and surfaced when he found himself again in his native environment. He has to redevelop character as an adult by leaving the negative and developing the positive. This is helped by acceptance, story telling and instruction. (less)

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Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 20th-century, canada
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
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
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.

When a
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
In my opinion, this is a very well crafted piece of Canadian First Nations literature with emphasis on family and self-discovery. A book of what it means to honour yourself and who you really are inside. Without one's culture, can anyone of us live at peace within our soul?

Wagamese demonstrates with ease the way in which the healing process of a lost soul can come to be when he comes back to his "roots". It's like he was trying to explain that a person can't have a "full" relationship with anyon
❀ 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 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
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
i listened to the audio book and the narrators were perfect!
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
My review gone again. Try again.
This was written by Richard Wagamese a Native Canadian and this was his first novel written in 1996. He became a favorite author of mine a couple of years back when I read Mediicne Walk. This book is semi autobiographical. In the book the main character was taken away from his family and Ojibwa tribe very young and put in foster care and white schools and not allowed to speak his native language or learn about his heritage. Racism took away who he was and he was
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Garnet Raven was a victim of the '60s scoop ending up in Toronto where as an adult he ends up in a bit of trouble and does a stint in jail. He also develops his musical chops, and for lack of another identity, hangs out in the local black music scene. Eventually though, he longs to connect with his family of origin on the White Dog reserve in northern Ontario. He arrives there sporting an afro and platform shoes; a good joke for his family members on the reserve. But they, his mother and brother ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am such a Richard Wagamese fan that every time I pick up one of his books, I worry that this time I will be disappointed. Maybe someday but not this time!
Keeper'n Me is about Garnet Raven who was taken from his family when he was very young. His life is a series of families to get used to. When he finally settles as a young adult, he's with a black family. He has a sense of belonging. I won't tell you how he ends up back home with his real family - you need to read the book for that. But the p
Gail Amendt
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having read and enjoyed most of Richard Wagamese's other books, I decided to read the very first novel he ever published. He appears to have followed the oft given advice to write about what you know, as the story has many similarities to his life story as written in his autobiography. It tells the story of Garnet Raven, a young Ojibwa man who returns to his family after having spent his childhood in foster care. An elderly man known to all as Keeper helps him to reconnect to the traditional bel ...more
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In many ways, this book epitomizes the Anishnaabe way of "being a kind and good person". It's a gentle read: no explosions, explicit sex, rape scenes, gratutitous violence... It tells the story of a search for identity, and about what it means deep within to be uprooted and taken from home and family at a young age, and about the journey back to self.

In some ways, I found myself wishing that Mr. Wagamese had explained better the sense of loss, but in many ways, that's not what this is about. It
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful story of Garnet Raven, an Ojibway Indian who was taken to foster care at the age of 3 and grew up not knowing how to be an Indian. At age 23, he finally discovered where he came from and with the help of Keeper, an elder, he learned the traditions and heritage of his clan. The writing was beautiful and the philosophy of the traditions and heritage of the Ojibway is very appropriate to anyone; the idea of having balance in your life, of having respect for others, humility and kin ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
If this had been the first Richard Wagamese book I read, I'm not sure I would have read another, which would have been a shame. If you are thinking of reading Keeper 'n Me as your first Wagamese book, put it down right now and pick up Indian Horse or Medicine Walk, and experience the writer that he became over time. Keeper 'n Me has glimpses of the writer that was to come, but the story is unpolished, repetitive, and, at times, kind of boring. The book has value, in that I learned a lot about Oj ...more
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Man, I love it when I read a good book for school that isn't depressing or simply idiotic. I love it when I read a book that actually has something to say and says it well!

Well, I guess, this book had a lot of things to say, some I agree with, some I disagree with. It had good points on identity, women (I love it when people write about respecting women, it really doesn't happen often enough,) and just faith and nature and people in general. It was a good book.

Admittedly, action wise, very lit
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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.” 4 likes
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