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Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
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Three Day Road (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Joseph Boyden

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1,173566,877 (4.27)263
Member:susanbooks
Title:Three Day Road
Authors:Joseph Boyden
Info:Penguin Books (2005), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, ww1, memory, race, body, barbara

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Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden (2005)

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English (50)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
I re-read this book as a memory to the 100th anniversary of WWI. In my opinion, it is one of the finest fictional accounts of life on the battlefields of France and Belgium. Two narrators, Xavier and Niska tell the story of life near James Bay for the two snipers and Niska and life on the battlefield for Xavier and Elijah. Elijah is the extrovert who becomes a morphine addict, an expert sniper but who crosses a moral line with his lust for killing. Xavier is the introvert who although a better shot, is more modes. Niska cares for a severely injured Xavier when he returns from the war to northern Ontario. Brilliant character development and story telling. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Aug 4, 2014 |
The focus in this book is primarily on two Cree best friends who become snipers, fighting for Canada in World War I. The book does flip back and forth between the viewpoint of Xavier (one of the snipers) and his aunt, Niska, who raised him.

The first half of the book was pretty slow-going for me. But it really picked up in the second half, I thought. The best parts of the book were the WWI scenes, in my opinion. I often had trouble at the beginning of each chapter, not following right away whose viewpoint we were following at that point. The book also jumped around when it came to the time frame – during the war, Xavier growing up, Niska when she was younger, after the war, etc. - so I found that a bit confusing at times, as well. Overall, though, it was good. I'm glad I finally read it. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jul 8, 2014 |
An astonishing novel. An even more astonishing first novel. There can be no disputing Joseph Boyden is not only an accomplished story-teller, but a significant Canadian voice in the 21st century.

Three Day Road, drawn from real people and real history, is an impeccably researched, and skilfully wrought tale of two Cree soldiers who fight in the nightmare of WWI. It is a story about the terror of residential schools, the descent into madness, and the arduous journey back to peace of mind and body.

A singularly great novel and great read. Highly recommended. ( )
  fiverivers | Jun 15, 2014 |
This was an odd mixture of two Cree Indian youths and the fighting in World War I. These two elements worked very well together. The novel was very effective and touching, even frightening in the evocative realistic war scenes. Two Cree Indian young men from North Ontario, enlist in the Canadian Army in World War I and fight in France, most notably at Vimy Ridge. The two youths in the novel become sniper and scout. They have always hunted together since boyhood. One, Xavier, loses a leg and is invalided home. Due to the mistranslation of his aunt's letter and another mix-up, he is thought to be his friend, Elijah, who had died in the same attack. Niska, an old healer/seer, who still lives in the 'bush', meets him at the railroad station and then paddles him upriver home in her canoe. The journey takes three days, and the novel consists of each of their memories and telling incidents from their lives and Xavier's memories and telling of his horrific war experiences. We see the prejudice of the wemistoshiw [white men] and learn of Elijah's school years in the mission school. We learn many of the customs and folkways of the Indians. The novel was based in part on a real-life Ojibwa Indian hero of that War, a famous sniper. Besides being the length of the journey home, I thought 'three day road' as a metaphor for death. The novel was beautifully written, and we really got to know the three main characters. ( )
  janerawoof | Apr 29, 2014 |
[Three Day Road], Joseph Boyden’s 20095 debut novel, is a narrative born of war in the tradition of [All Quiet on the Western Front] or [The Naked and the Dead]. It is uncomfortable reading. The stench of rotting bodies steams off of every page. You can feel the mud of the trenches pulling you deeper into the madness. What is different about Boyden’s novel is the eyes through whom he tells the story – a Cree soldier, born of the Ontario plains of Canada.

Xavier Bird and his mystic aunt, Niska, share the pages, each telling a different piece of Xaiver’s tale. Xavier recounts his journey of fire: canoeing through a forest fire to enlist, learning the deadly life of a sniper, and losing his leg in a mortar attack. Niska relates Xavier’s young life: rescuing him from a Catholic school where the nuns were trying to violently beat his origins out of him, teaching him a life controlled by the land around them, and introducing him to the spirits of his ancestors. Both tales are told as Niska takes Xavier home again, picking him up from the railhead. When she retrieves him, Xavier is missing a leg and is deeply addicted to heroin. Both talk through the three day canoe trip, each hoping to lead Xavier back to his lost soul.

Boyd captured the brutal life of a trench soldier in World War I, an event so far removed from our shared experience that it strains the imagination. Often, the accounts of Xavier’s exploits are overly brutal, designed to prove evil of war in any age. And balanced against the harsh life of the Canadian plains, there is little room to breathe. So, the principal criticism here is that Boyd’s story is a constant assault on the senses. But the heart of the story, the battle for Xavier’s sanity and soul, is gripping.

Bottom Line: Though an assault on the senses, the gripping story is told from a unique and interesting perspective.

4 bones!!!!! ( )
  blackdogbooks | Apr 13, 2014 |
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kina ntehi

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kina ninikamowin
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We walk through the snow, follow our trail out to the traplines by the willows.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143037072, Paperback)

Joseph Boyden's first novel is the story of two Cree friends, Xavier and Elijah, who leave their pristine northern country to end up in the horrific trenches of World War I. Loosely based on the real life of a famous Canadian sniper, the story is told from two first-person views: those of Xavier and his old aunt and only living relative, Niska. After the war, Niska is taking her wounded nephew back home north to the bush in a canoe. Their trip is the three-day road of the title, which also refers to the journey taken after death. The story of the war is told in flashbacks on this journey as Xavier recovers from morphine addiction. Niska also relates various stories to Xavier, believing there is "medicine in the tale."

Boyden is a natural storyteller. Both the Native tales of the north and the grim accounts of the war in France and Belgium have the ring of truth. His images can be subtly appropriate--raiders who go over the top are "eaten by the night"--and his characterizations are excellent, especially the three main players and Xavier's Canadian trenchmates. Eventually, Elijah seems to feed on the death all around him, becoming a "windigo," while Xavier begins to question the sanity of the war and his friend's growing madness, realizing "we all fight on two fronts, the one facing the enemy, the one facing what we do to the enemy." Not for the squeamish reader, this is a powerful novel that takes a new angle on a popular subject, "the war to end all wars." --Mark Frutkin, Amazon.ca

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:17 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"...It is 1919 and Niska, an Oji-Cree medicine woman, has left her home in the bush of northern Ontario to recieve Xavier Bird, her only relation who has returned from the trenches of Europe.Gravely wounded and addicted to morphine, Xavier recounts how he and his best friend, Elijah Whiskeyjack, prowled the battlefields as snipers of enormous skill and how the circumstances of their deadly craft led them to very different fates.Told with unblinking focus, this is a stunning tale of brutality, survival, and rebirth that marks the arrival of a prodigious new talent." From the bookjacket.… (more)

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