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Jimmy Bluefeather by Kim Heacox
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Jimmy Bluefeather

by Kim Heacox

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Keb Wisting is the 95-year-old (or thereabouts) protagonist of this outstanding and finely detailed book set in southeast Alaska. He is born of Norwegian and Tlingit parents, raised by his Uncle Austin listening to Native Alaskan stories while living close to the earth, water, and mountains of this beautiful state. Keb has led a full life but is now ready to die. He has lost his beloved wife and three sons and is left with two daughters who don't get along for political reasons. He longs to go out in the woods, lay down in the moss, and die. But when he learns his grandson has been severely injured in a logging accident, he knows he has some more living to do.

Keb has no patience when his grandson enters a deep funk because his promising basketball career is over. He challenges him to help in the building of a cedar dugout canoe in the Tlingit tradition. This leads to fascinating reading that captured my imagination along with the participation of the entire community. The canoe gives James hope for the future and gives Keb a reason to live a little longer. Keb not only helps his family and community focus on something besides their own problems, he is reacquainted with a young woman whose life he saved years ago when she was a child. She is now a marine biologist studying whales who can't overcome her troubled childhood.

The magic of Alaska and the mystical elements of the Tlingit culture can work wonders in the lives of lost souls. An epic journey with some very interesting side characters, a lovable mutt named Steve, and the presence of Raven make this book not only a good story but also a great book. ( )
3 vote Donna828 | Jan 18, 2017 |
Finally, a 5 star book! While this book started off a tiny bit slow, once I go into the rhythm of the story, I didn't stop reading until I finished it. Keb Wisting is about 95 years old and has been dying for twenty years. When his grandson, James is injured in a logging accident, he can no longer play basketball and feels like his life is over. Keb is the last of the Tlingit canoe builders. He decides to build one last canoe with his grandson and take a final trip to the land of his ancestors. With a few friends and a wacky dog named Steve, they head out for the glacier that ended the original village of his ancestors while being chased by everyone and their brother! It's hard to do this book justice in a review, you should really read it yourself. I was crying at the end at the beauty of this life we all share together and they were tears of joy. Highly recommended. ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Jan 18, 2017 |
“Nature doesn't lie. It might not tell you what you want to hear. It might be a brutal truth. But it is the truth.”

“A damn good way to die. In a boat.”

”I've been dying for twenty years,“ Keb said. “I'm taking my time so I don't miss anything.”

Keb Wisting is ninety-five. Part Norwegian, part Tlingit Native. He is a canoe wood-carver, in southeast Alaska.
He is in poor health and playing out his days, until his teenage grandson, a rising basketball star is badly injured.
The boy also gets into deep trouble with some locals. This sparks, Old Keb into action and he begins to construct a final canoe.
With this canoe, he is going to take his grandson and go on, a final, journey, back to Keb's ancestral, birthplace. The chase begins as the authorities are also on their trail, with all their fancy, high-tech gear.
This is a terrific story, filled with wisdom and adventure. A gallery of colorful characters and a beautiful sense of place. I love reading books set in Alaska and this is one of my favorites, plus Old Keb, is an unforgettable creation and someone I would love to have a few beers with. ( )
  msf59 | Nov 11, 2016 |
I found this book through the list of National Outdoor Book Award (Outdoor Literature (Fiction), 2015). I saw that very few fiction books had won awards, so I decided to give this a try.

Wow- outstanding.

Old Keb, the Tlingit elder, sees death beginning to wait for him, as well as seeing a mystical raven alerting him something is up.

When Keb's grandson James loses his prospects at professional basketball due to a logging accident, James falls deep into depression. Keb decides to carve one last traditional canoe with his grandson and take one last journey, to a glacial bay where Keb grew up, and which is now part of a National Marine Refuge. Keb, James, two of James’ friends and a dog who thinks he might be a lizard – or a dinosaur- slip quietly away in the canoe.

It soon seems like all of Alaska is looking for Keb and his canoe.

They immediately become the subject of an all-out government search due to the fear that the trip will bring unwanted publicity for Tlingit issues surrounding the Marine reserve. The government does this under the guise of bringing Keb back for his own safety.

Others want to find him to wish him well and to speed him on this final voyage.

There is also an evil element hunting him due to things James said about the logging accident.

But Keb has lived on these waters for almost ninety years and this wise old man isn’t as easy to catch as might be guessed.

This book is both humorous and touching – with a lot of knowledge of Alaska’s world and wildlife (oh the whales!) and the Tlingit way of life – which in many ways is both similar and different to small town life everywhere.

This will be one of my favorite books of the year. If you don’t see me for a while, perhaps I’ve headed off to Alaska. That’s just how good this book is. ( )
  streamsong | Sep 25, 2016 |
I loved this book. I am guilting of skimming some books, but with this book, I wanted to read each word... slowly. I loved it! The words made me reflect on life and what I wish I had taught our kids!! Great Great Great Story!! ( )
  LASMIT | Jun 14, 2016 |
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Book description
Old Keb Wisting is somewhere around ninety-five years old (he lost count awhile ago) and in constant pain and thinks he wants to die. He also thinks he thinks too much. Part Norwegian and part Tlingit Native (“with some Filipino and Portuguese thrown in”), he’s the last living canoe carver in the village of Jinkaat, in Southeast Alaska.

When his grandson, James, a promising basketball player, ruins his leg in a logging accident and tells his grandpa that he has nothing left to live for, Old Keb comes alive and finishes his last canoe, with help from his grandson. Together (with a few friends and a crazy but likeable dog named Steve) they embark on a great canoe journey. Suddenly all of Old Keb’s senses come into play, so clever and wise in how he reads the currents, tides, and storms. Nobody can find him. He and the others paddle deep into wild Alaska, but mostly into the human heart, in a story of adventure, love, and reconciliation. With its rogue’s gallery of colorful, endearing, small-town characters, this book stands as a wonderful blend of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and John Nichols’s The Milagro Beanfield War, with dashes of John Steinbeck thrown in. - Amazon
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"Old Keb Wisting is somewhere around ninety-five years old (he lost count awhile ago) and in constant pain and thinks he wants to die. He also thinks he thinks too much. Part Norwegian and part Tlingit Native (with some Filipino and Portuguese thrown in), he s the last living canoe carver in the village of Jinkaat, in Southeast Alaska. When his grandson, James, a promising basketball player, ruins his leg in a logging accident and tells his grandpa that he has nothing left to live for, Old Keb comes alive and finishes his last canoe, with help from his grandson. Together (with a few friends and a crazy but likeable dog named Steve) they embark on a great canoe journey. Suddenly all of Old Keb s senses come into play, so clever and wise in how he reads the currents, tides and storms. Nobody can find him. He and the others paddle deep into wild Alaska, but mostly into the human heart, in a story of adventure, love, and reconciliation" --… (more)

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