Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

Three Day RoadRead: Dec. 28, 2015 to Jan. 10, 2016
Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pages: 408
Genres: Historical Fiction (Canada), War

Blurb from Goodreads:

"It is 1919, and Niska, the last Oji-Cree medicine woman to live off the land, has received word that one of the two boys she grudgingly saw off to war has returned. She leaves her home in the bush of Northern Ontario to retrieve him, only to discover that the one she expected is actually the other.

Xavier Bird, her sole living relation, gravely wounded and addicted to the army’s morphine, hovers somewhere between the living world and that of the dead. As Niska paddles him the three days home, she realizes that all she can offer in her attempt to keep him alive is her words, the stories of her life.

In turn, Xavier relates the horrifying years of war in Europe: he and his best friend, Elijah Whiskeyjack, prowled the battlefields of France and Belgium as snipers of enormous skill. As their reputations grew, the two young men, with their hand-sewn moccasins and extraordinary marksmanship, became both the pride and fear of their regiment as they stalked the ripe killing fields of Ypres and the Somme.

Inspired in part by real-life World War I Ojibwa hero Francis Pegahmagabow, Three Day Road is beautifully written and told with unblinking focus, it is a remarkable tale, one of brutality, survival, and rebirth."


Three Day Road interesting kind of read. It was narrated by two different people: Niska, an Aboriginal medicine woman, and Xavier, Niska's nephew, and a soldier returning from war. In a nut shell, this story is pretty much the telling of and remembering of short snippets of their lives'. And all this happens while Niska paddles Xavier in a river back "home".

I confess: I read this book because I was promised bonus marks from my English 11 teacher. My English teacher also said that this book dealt with serious matters that wouldn't be suitable to the average eleventh grader. Apparently, young people won't be able to appreciate a book such as this. So you could also say that I read this book to prove him wrong.

I confess: so the beginning (and I mean the very first chapter), was already hard to read. I don't mean that the words were complicated, I mean my mind couldn't focus. While I read, my mind thought of everything BUT what I was reading on the page. So, I read the words aloud, hoping I'd be able to focus easier. It helped.

I confess: I skimmed through some of the descriptions. I would have died of boredom if I hadn't. Somewhere through the book, especially the first half, I was really starting to question my abilities as a reader. I've never met a book that I couldn't enjoy even a little...thankfully, after the halfway point, the story became a little more bearable.

I confess: I was ecstatic when I found out that I'd be learning about this war and Aboriginal involvement later on in the year. I was randomly flipping pages in my social studies textbook, and you wouldn't believe how irrationally happy I was when I saw the words, "trench", and "sniper", among many other familiar words.

A surprise: After I finished this book, my first thought was, "finally! Moving on to something more interesting!", and blatantly disregarded the book without a second thought. A day or two later, I was surprised when I caught myself thinking about the book while eating lunch. I had finally come to the realisation that this book was worth reading. I made the connections and the immensity of the book was a tad overwhelming. It was like the importance of this book smacked me in the face and said, "look at me! Really look at me.".  I had originally planned on giving this book a one star, maybe 2 star rating...but ta da!  I gave it a three!

To be frank, I really wasn't enjoying this book as much as I thought I would have. Sure, this isn't something I'd typically pick up, but a book can only be so bad, right? At first, I found it hard to follow the story. Yes, I'd understand the individual stories that were told, but I understood them as small snippets of their lives, nothing like the usual stories I've read. It was like I was reading the book with a filter. A blurry one at that. I felt that Xavier's story was told too extensively, and Niska's was a bit neglected, which was truly unfortunate since I liked hearing about her past.

My teacher held this book in such a high regard when he first introduced it to us, so you can't blame me for starting this book with high expectations. He promised us violence and action. Rape and drug addiction. At the word "rape", almost all the students in the class clamored to the front of the class to collect a copy of this book. I kid you not.

I took it because 1) I'm greedy when it comes to bonus marks, and 2) I wanted to try a more mature genre.

Although this story didn't quite work with me in the beginning, by the end of it, I found the significance of it (thankfully!), and I appreciated it for all it was worth. Buuuut, I can also truthfully say that although it ended up being not so bad, I won't be reading something like this for quite some time. Call me immature, but I need some teenage problems to frustrate over, not the terror of residential schools and wars, and the impact they had on Aboriginals.

Some Other Stuff...

  • Peoples,  there was a guy who had Patrick in his name.  And he died.  DO YOU KNOW HOW SIGNIFICANT THIS NAME IS TO ME?!  No, of course you don't...but the point is, reading about a Patrick dying was very sad....but maybe...just maybe...I'll spoil you people with an explanation of this Patrick....MAYBE....if you're nice.

  • My teacher gave us these books (this one and Indian Horse) to read because he wanted to be able to discuss them with us when we're done (so far, I'm the only one that has finished reading the books, this is kinda ridiculous, considering how long it's been...I think some of the excitement has been lost for other students too.  Now, keep in mind, theses are MY thoughts...but...if I, an avid reader had to put so much effort into getting past the first half of the book, then the other students who hardly read must have had so much more trouble...)  So, I prepared this long speech on what I thought of the book, and what I liked, disliked...pretty much a summary of this review.  I thought about how I would give him back the book, and proudly recite my speech for days...when I finally talked myself into going up to him at the end of class (it was the last class of the day, too), I handed him the books, and all he said was, "which one did you like better?".  I started off with "...I liked them both, but for different reasons...", then he seemed kinda impatient, so I left it at that.  I left the class feeling very disappointed.  Okay, so yes...maybe it was just me thinking that he was impatient...maybe that was my brain giving me an excuse not to follow through with my speech, but...uuuuuuuuuugh...

    What is the most mature book you've ever read?  Did you like it?

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