Three Day Road


Three Day Road

Author: Joseph Boyden

Published: 2005

Genre: Fiction

About Three Day Road: Xavier Bird and Elijah Whiskeyjack left Northern Ontario to serve in World War I. Now only one of them has returned to make the journey home.

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Book Review

At the beginning of the book, Niska, an Oji-Cree medicine woman, travels to the city to retrieve Elijah, her dead nephew's best friend, who is returning from World War I. But when the train arrives, it is Xavier who alights instead, missing a leg and addicted to morphine. To ease his pain on the long journey home, Niska shares stories from her life but Xavier is tortured by memories of his own.

Hours later, I awake to a light rain tapping on the canvas. I open my eyes and listen to it. The fire smoke in the rain is a pleasant scent. I realize I lie here alone. Even with the weather, Nephew has not come in. I peer outside. The fire sizzles and pops, and my fear returns when I see he doesn't sit beside it.

There is no sleep the remainder of the night. I toss in my blanket. My body hums with Nephew's pain and with the realization that he has come home only to die.

...from page 9

The writing was lyrical and I thought Boyden did a good job of capturing the cadence of Native Canadian speech. Cree words were sprinkled throughout the text. They were never explained but were used often enough that it was fairly easy to determine their meaning from the context. The descriptions of the war, both on the battlefield and off, were grim and often brutal.

A very good book with unforgettable characters and a haunting story. As much as I liked Miriam Toews's A Complicated Kindness, I think this book deserved to win Canada Reads. If you haven't read it yet, you should. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Lynn Bornath on 25 July 2007.

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Added 25 July 2007.
Updated 07 September 2013.