Thursday, January 6, 2011
Through Black Spruce (Joseph Boyden)
There were a number of times I picked up and read the back cover of this book at Chapters, only to place it back on the shelves. While I always enjoy a story that I can relate to, I also appreciate certain degree of escapism and distance between myself and a novel's content. In this book the two main characters' story lines hit close to home: Will Bird, the former bush pilot, reminded me of ni-awema (my brother) who got his wings last summer, and Annie Bird's sister, Suzanne, who is missing, recalled the work I did as a researcher for an initiative that related to missing and murdered Native women and girls.
At a buy three, get one free sale at Chapters, I could no longer find reasons not to buy it. After reading the first chapter, I could no longer understand why I waited so long. I missed the Bird family, whom I'd first met in Three Day Road, and all of their habits and insights.
I was particularly drawn to the story of Annie's search for her sister, Suzanne, and her travels 'through black spruce' to the cityscapes of Toronto and New York City, and back home again. I could relate to her perspective as a girl from the rez who became intoxicated by life in the city and all of the cheap thrills it has to offer.
It goes without saying for anyone who's read Boyden or even heard of him that the writing in this book is beautiful. I've already purchased my copy of his third book, Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, which is part of Penguin's Extraordinary Canadians Series.