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Through Black Spruce [Hardcover]

Joseph Boyden
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 Mar 2009

Fifteen years after the death of their patriarch Xavier, the Bird Clan finds itself struggling to survive on the hardscrabble reservation they call home. On Christmas Day, the youngest of the clan, a beautiful young woman called Suzanne leaves by snowmobile with her boyfriend Gus Netmaker, against both families' wishes, hoping to find purpose and a better life in Toronto. When word from Suzanne and Gus suddenly ceases, the Netmakers and Birds fear the worst and tensions between the two families escalate to violent levels. Suzanne's sister Annie, a loner and a hunter, decides to leave home for the very first time to search for them, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss. While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modeling studios to A-list parties, Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family.

THROUGH BLACK SPRUCE paints aboriginal life in a contemporary world, full of the dangers, desperation and harsh beauty of both the forest and the city. It's an utterly unforgettable consideration of the search for identity and the strength of family love.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (12 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297848410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297848417
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 707,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Joseph Boyden's novel is, simply, beautiful: you will lose yourself in the richness of its prose and the ever-deepening puzzles it inveigles you into. THROUGH BLACK SPRUCE is fluent, involving fiction, and as good an advertisement as any for unforgiving wilderness living. (Tim Teeman THE TIMES)

This complex and interesting novel is all about strong family bonds. (HOT STARS)

a remarkable view into a lost world dismantled so brutally by the white 'wemestikushu'... Boyden guides us through customs, mythologies and rituals that attend life in the bush. (TLS)

mesmerising. In the wild, dreams are prophetic and spiritual truths revealed... his characters are most moving when revelations occur in small, quite moments. (Julie Wheelwright THE INDEPENDENT)

It is a powerful novel of place and the ties that bind families... A fine achievement, Through Black Spruce is extraordinary. (IRISH EXAMINER)

love, betrayal and loss in the wild and frozen Canadian wilderness. A strangely haunting read. (CHOICE)

Alternating between life at its most elemental and most decadent, Boyden's tale skilfully reflects the Indians' struggle to embrace modern society. (Anthony Gardner MAIL ON SUNDAY)

Book Description

From internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden comes an astonishingly powerful novel of contemporary Indian life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a complex novel in many ways; sometimes easy to read and sometimes more difficult, partially for its content. Drugs and alcoholism are a part of the contemporary Indian culture protrayed here, and it is a depressing reality. However, this book shows not only the starkness but the strengths of what are really, just ordinary people. The structure, of stories being told to and by the comatose main character, takes a bit of getting used to, but it soon becomes easier to follow. This seems a very real book and the voices of the main characters ring true. The juxtaposition of different worlds (city, small Canadian Indian town, wilderness)works well, highlighting the similarities and differences. I found the portrayal of life on the edge of the town and in the deep woods the most interesting, but all of it fits and works together. It's ultimately a book about choices, responsibility and chosing your own place. As an aside, it is rather difficult to believe the photo on the jacket is really the author. The voice in this book seems to speak of more lifetimes than the photo portrays. Excellent story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book by Joseph Boyden 20 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This man can do no wrong when it comes to storytelling ,another book in the saga of the Bird clan
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brillian story 14 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I visited Moosonee and Moose Factory in the 70s, so Through Black Spruce brought back a lot of memories. Apart from an interesting story line the book gives a brilliant description of the beautiful but harsh landscape as well as life in this remote part of Canada.
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4.0 out of 5 stars GENTLY RIVETING 25 Jan 2014
By Clive
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
'The Orenda' was my first foray into Joseph Boyden and I was so impressed that I bought a couple of his other, earlier, books to try. There is a thread running through all of these books in that one of the main characters is a 'Bird' and can trace back to their early, Cree Indian character of that name (as in 'The Orenda'). A further similarity is the style of alternating characters in each chapter. In 'Through Black Spruce', the two main characters are Will Bird and Annie, an uncle and niece and their interlocking stories are told in alternating chapters; it's a very effective story telling tactic.

This is a very slow paced and gentle book and, really, little actually seems to happen. The story emerges gradually rather than being set out at an early stage and this narrative is all the better for that. If you are looking for a fast paced and/or action packed romp, then look elsewhere 'cos it certainly isn't here. However, I was amazed at how gripping this slowly unravelling story becomes and I was almost immediately immersed in the characters and racing to read the next portion of their stories. This created a quirk for me: as each chapter ended and I began to read the following chapter, it now switched to the other character (either Will or Annie) and I resented being torn away from the story of just the previous page. But a couple of paragraphs in and I was again hooked into that story until, at the end of that chapter.... you get the idea.

What made this book special for me was the insight into the world of the native American Indians living on the borders between Canada and the USA, a genre of work I know very little about.
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