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The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian
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The Buffalo Soldier (2002)

by Chris Bohjalian

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Another great story! Well researched and so informative it reads like non-fiction.

There are two elements of Chris Bohjalian's writing that I absolutely enjoy: his characters are so well-developed that you feel you know them; and the dialogue is so well-written that you feel you can actually hear the voices of the characters. ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
Another great story! Well researched and so informative it reads like non-fiction.

There are two elements of Chris Bohjalian's writing that I absolutely enjoy: his characters are so well-developed that you feel you know them; and the dialogue is so well-written that you feel you can actually hear the voices of the characters. ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
In "The Buffalo Soldier", author Chris Bohjalian gives the reader two stories for the price of one: the first story being that of Terry and Laura Sheldon and their foster child Alfred, and the second being the story of George Rowe, "the buffalo soldier." Just as the circumstances and emotions surrounding the Sheldon girls' tragic deaths is a constant theme throughout the novel, so is the story of the buffalo soldiers. Perhaps it was because I listened to this novel on audio, but it is not apparent at first how the two stories are symbolically connected - and at times (again, possibly due to the audio format), the quotes from Rowe seemed to be distracting from the story itself.

The weather, the cold, and the presence of water (in all its forms - rain, the river, etc.) are also key symbolic elements that are an integral part of this novel. It is set in late fall and winter, so the Vermont landscape is often depicted as very cold and gloomy. Such is also the case for the marriage of Terry and Laura Sheldon following the deaths of their daughters. The reader isn't given much of a glimpse into the Sheldons' marriage prior to this incident, but understandably so, the couple deals with their emotions to their shared tragedy in separate ways. Bohjalian portrays the emotions experienced by the wife, Laura, extremely well; his portrayal of 10-year Alfred is also exceptionally well-done.

Much of the writing in "The Buffalo Soldier" is well-done. Bohjalian shines in his descriptions of the landscape, and the interactions between Laura and Alfred as well as Alfred and the retired college professor and his wife who live across the street, are beautifully brought to life. I did not care much for Terry or Phoebe, which may have been the reaction that Bohjalian hoped to arose in his readers. The story does fall short in its ending. The drama that fills the climatic scenes in the book are believable, but the resolution of the conflict in the story absolutely is not. It's wrapped up hastily (as if there was a page limit that was foisted upon the author) and too neatly - a little too "movie-of-the-week"-ish. With all the complexities that each character carries, they - and the reader - needed something more. Overall, I liked the novel and will certainly read more of Bohjalian's work as he is a talented writer.
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  bettyandboo | Apr 2, 2013 |
Terry and Laura Sheldon's lives get turned upside-down when their twin girls die in a flash flood. Their marriage is brittle as they invite a foster child into their home. Alfred is a 10 year-old African-American boy, who has been shuffled from foster home to foster home and can't trust that he may be here to stay. Enter kind elderly neighbors next door, who teach Alfred about the Buffalo Soldiers from the Civil War who were known for the honesty and integrity which inspires the child.
The plot has several important twists that further affect them all. Beautifully written and evocative, Bohajlian deals with the question of what makes a family? Highly recommended. ( )
  janiereader | Sep 14, 2012 |
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Epigraph
If you know your history
Then you would know where you are coming from.

Bob Marley, "Buffalo Soldier"
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For Grace
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It rained throughout September and October, and people made jokes about Biblical floods before the Sheldon girls drowned.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375725466, Paperback)

There are certain plots that possess inherent drama, and the saving of a lost child is one of them. In The Buffalo Soldier, Chris Bohjalian--who showed such flair for drama in the bestselling Oprah's Book Club® pick Midwives--gives us the story of 10-year-old Alfred, an African American foster child who is taken in by Terry and Laura Sheldon, a white couple whose twin daughters have drowned. Another child is also about to come on the scene: Terry has an affair, and the young woman becomes pregnant. Bohjalian takes his sweet time exploring these relationships, but he also writes scenes with the same tautness that made Midwives a page-turner. The result is a novel that's both readable and exhaustively fleshed out. As Alfred settles into the Sheldons' lives, we actually come to believe in the unlikely little family the three of them forge. Bohjalian narrates his story from the perspective of each of his principal characters, a method that can be tiresome, but here is made fresh by the author's clear vision: these people, you feel, are real to him. --Claire Dederer

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:13 -0400)

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After losing their twin daughters in a flash flood, a grief-stricken couple take in a foster child.

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Chris Bohjalian is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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