Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
The Short Take:
Boyden’s second novel is a worthy successor to his marvelous Three Day Road. This mesmerizing journey through the lives and dreams of two Canadian Crees is rich and rewarding. I wish I’d gotten my hands on it when it first came out (March, 2009). I hope you’ll make the effort to find it now.
Two narrators — a Cree bush pilot in a coma and his beautiful niece — alternate narrative chapters in this haunting novel. In his dreams, he tells her of the journey of his life. At his bedside, she whispers to him about her journey through the glittering world of clubs and glamour.
Infused with fascinating details about Northern Crees who live closer to a traditional lifestyle, both narratives are really about the journey to find one’s self. But this is no mere moody tale, it’s filled with genuine suspense alongside surprising flashes of humor.
Boyden creates characters you believe in and really care about. While bush pilot Will Bird is more complex and thoughtful than his niece, Annie, that makes perfect sense considering her young years. By the same token, Will’s personal torments and genuine fears have a depth that Anne’s hollow sojourn in New York cannot achieve.
The way these two narratives balance and compliment each other really works. Boyden is a very gifted and convincing writer. His first novel made a huge impression on me. And this one did not disappoint.
A Little Plot:
Cree Bush pilot, Will Bird, lies in a coma. His niece, Annie, visits him daily. In his mind, he is telling her the story of his three plane crashes as well as his struggle against a local thug who is out to kill him (we don’t know why he is in a coma until the end, and there is more than one possibility).
Because a nurse claims talking may help Will, Annie whispers stories about what happens to her in Toronto and why it sent her to New York in search for her now missing sister, Suzanne, a once rising fashion model.
Will’s tale encompasses enduring friendships and heart-breaking loss, along with very real fear of his ruthless and powerful enemy. Annie’s story reflects the emptiness and capriciousness of the world of what’s in and who’s out. But she faces danger, too. And the danger both her and her uncle face are both wrapped up with the missing and elusive Suzanne.
To learn more about this book and Joseph Boyden, click here.