Saturday, January 16, 2010

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

I can see why this quiet book was the winner of the Giller Prize, the top Canadian book award.  The two readers did a wonderful job of doing the various male/female characters as well as capturing the Cree expressions.  This is the story of former bush pilot and Cree native Will Bird. The novel opens with Will in a coma, with his niece Annie, who just returned from an eight-month excursion in search of her sister, by his side in the hospital. Narrated by Will and Annie, the story backtracks to tell of Will's fight to keep his bush-country Indian life alive and protected while he suppresses painful childhood memories. Annie, a skillful hunter and animal trapper, tells of her escapades after rushing off to New York City in pursuit of her sister, Suzanne, a model who has shacked up with a member of the narcotics-smuggling Netmakers family. As Will struggles to survive and Annie reintegrates into the isolated bush, the two stories dovetail as the Netmakers cross paths with Will. This book has some wonderful humor in it and I enjoyed the native Cree voices and telling of their lifestyle.  I don't know if I would have enjoyed this quiet story as much if I was reading it but, on audio with the voices capturing the characters, it was very enjoyable.

Rating: 4 Recommend