Saturday, February 21, 2009

Through Black Spruce-Joseph Boyden

Through Black Spruce
Joseph Boyden
Viking, Apr 2009, $26.95
ISBN: 0670020575

In Moose Factory, Ontario, Cree Indian Will Bird lies comatose in the hospital after a beating. While he ”dreams” of his life as a bush pilot amongst other things, his niece Annie , a hunter, has come home after an eight-month search for her runaway sister Suzanne who has become a popular model in Manhattan, to be at her uncle’s side. Annie knows she has more in common with her uncle as a proficient hunter than she does with her younger “urbanized party going sibling who is connected to the ruthless Netmakers drug smugglers.

Will struggles for his life through his memories while Annie struggles to move past her efforts to connect with Suzanne. Annie’s boyfriend semi-hermit Gordon helps in his way. However the brave female hunter reconsiders her walking away from New York as she ponders hunting two-legged animals to rescue her sister and provide homage to dying Will who also has a nefarious link to the Netmakers.

This deep family drama contains two powerful contrasting story lines that ultimately converge. The cast is fully developed with the three Birds as the key players who come across as genuine; while the support casts enhances understanding of their personalities or the locale of Ontario or Manhattan. Although the probability of the ending occurring would have the odds of the Detroit Lions winning the next Superbowl, fans will relish the rustic stories of Will and Annie and to a lesser degree Suzanne in the city.

Harriet Klausner