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Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

Three Day Road (2005)

by Joseph Boyden

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (63)  French (4)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All (70)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
Xavier Bird and Elijah Weeageechak were two young Cree boys, removed from a residential school to live with Xavier's aunt, Niska, a medicine woman who lived in the bush following the old traditions. Boyden's story was inspired in part by real-life aboriginal WWI heroes Francis Pegahmagabow and John Shiwak. The title refers to those about to die having to walk the Three Day Road. Xavier is travelling his Three Day Road back to his home in Northern Ontario while Niska tells stories to heal him as she paddles the canoe. Xavier's memories of the war are interwoven with Niska's stories. In this way the reader gets to know their history, the Cree lifestyle, and the horrors Xavier and Elijah experienced at Ypres, the Somme, and Passchendaele. Boyden has given this book a depth and passion not often seen in fiction as the reader becomes deeply immersed with the characters, their lives and the cultural differences. This is a powerful story that is worthy of the accolades it garnered. Its breathtaking prose is all the more impressive for a debut novel. ( )
2 vote VivienneR | Apr 7, 2017 |
Some stories are crafted to just tell a story. Nothing wrong with that. With Three Day Road, Boyden has done more than just tell a story. He has crafted a journey. A literal journey in the three day canoe trip Xavier and his Aunt take to travel from town to their home deep in the bush country. A moral journey as we experience the fine line between heroism and homicide against the backdrop of World War I trench warfare and Cree folklore about the Windago, a monster that is a symbol of despair who comes to hunters who become consumed by an unceasing craving for what is unnatural (cannibalism, morphine addiction, human blood-lust). A cultural/racial journey as we experience, through Niska, the sad decline of Cree culture heralded by the creation of reservations and residential schools, with Niska representing one of the remaining traditional natives who live rough in the woods with their wits and traditional teachings to guide them.

I really liked this one. An awful lot to pack into a debut novel, but under Boyden’s pen, this merging of complex stories is handled with a skill and grace that works wonderfully. ( )
4 vote lkernagh | Mar 8, 2017 |
Pretty gruesome. A passable war novel with a gripping narrative but not enough control over character motivations for me. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
Two Canadian Cree Indian boys, close friends, go to fight in World War I, where one becomes addicted to morphine and killing and the other struggles to maintain the self he arrived with. A great story well told, though fighting through the battles of WW1 wore on me after a while and I just wished I could stay with the personal story. ( )
  gbelik | Dec 29, 2016 |
I wish I could give 3.5 stars in goodreads, because that's a more accurate representation of my rating. I almost loved this book, but not quite. Not entirely the book's fault - I read it over 3 weeks in little bits; but it took some serious persistence to read past the first 150 pages mainly because I was impatient with the over-arching metaphor. I found the first third awkward and a bit heavy handed, the last 2/3rds were much better, and the last 1/3 excellent. ( )
  mkunruh | Nov 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
He has illuminated a forgotten corner of the Great War and that, in itself, is a prodigious achievement.

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joseph Boydenprimary authorall editionscalculated
López Lobo, ÁlexTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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kina ntehi

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:15 -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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