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Secret Path by Gord Downie
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Secret Path

by Gord Downie

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Secret Path is a horrific story about a the residential school system, a national shame that still needs much more public attention and action. The book itself is done delicately and sensitively, with beautiful watercolour images and of course Gord Downie's words.

This book is quiet and understated, and as a result, there is a lot that is implied or left unsaid. For that reason (and because I think it's crucially important to listen to people personally affected by things), I'd recommend reading this with alongside an indigenous-authored book about the residential school system. I read this around the same time as [book:Up Ghost River: A Chief's Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History|19321954], which I think provided more historical and cultural information Secret Path and made the book that much more devastating. ( )
  bucketofrhymes | Dec 13, 2017 |
My blog post about this book is at this link. ( )
  SuziQoregon | Sep 21, 2017 |
Secret Path is a collaborative work between Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire. Downie is perhaps best known as the lead singer for the Tragically Hip but this rock musician is also a writer and his lyrics in Secret Path are truly haunting as he relates the tragic story of Chanie Wenjack. Along with his solo album of this title, a companion graphic novel was produced with Jeff Lemire handling the artwork. Jeff Lemire is the author behind such graphic masterpieces as The Complete Essex County and the Sweet Tooth series.

The story of twelve year old Chanie Wenjack is a small part of the story that will haunt Canada for generations. The practise of taking young aboriginals away from their families and placing them in residential schools left these children helpless and defenceless against the very caretakers that were supposed to be looking after them. Chanie ran away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ontario and tried to find his way home. Having no idea that his home was 400 miles away, he set out upon the railroad tracks and all too soon, cold, hungry and lost he fell by the wayside.

I was moved to tears by this vivid telling of just one small story of heartache, loneliness and abuse. Between the lyrics and the artwork, Chanie’s story unfolds beautifully. The importance here is the personal connection one gets from reading this account. Putting a name and face to this news story makes it all the more gut-wrenching. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Jul 1, 2017 |
Secret Path is a very unique GN, illustrated by one of my very favorite artists, Jeff Lemire. It is actually a ten song album, written by Gordon Downie and drawn by Lemire. It is also stark and absolutely heart-breaking. It is based on a true story about a young Indian boy, in Canada, that escapes a Indian Residential School and tries to find his way back home...400 miles away. Keep the hankies handy. ( )
  msf59 | May 2, 2017 |
I read Secret Path while listening to the album of the same name by Gord Downie, stretching it out and taking the time to examine each frame of the graphic novel.

The illustrations are perfect. The cartoonist is Jeff Lemire, a Canadian as well, and one of my favourites. The drawings are sketchy, moody and bleak, which fits the setting of the Residential School in Northern Ontario and the train tracks to nowhere. Most of the book is greyscale with blue, but there is a little bit of colour, which is, again, perfect. The illustrations are so descriptive and provocative that I hardly missed having text (there are only a couple of words in the whole novel). Lemire is really the best artist I can think of for this work.

The songs lyrics at intervals throughout the novel written by Gord Downie are simple and meaningful. I loved listening to the cd and reading the lyrics at the same time. The way that he sings them is much more like poems accompanied by music than songs themselves as they aren't particularly catchy or singable... but they're perfect for the book.

This is a book I would keep on my shelf, and one that I would recommend to others. Five stars!

PS If you are captivated by the story behind this book, you should probably read the novel Porcupines and China Dolls by Robert Alexie; it's intensely raw, but an incredible read. ( )
  Liosa | Mar 6, 2017 |
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