Through Black Spruce: A novel of self discovery

The first book completed in my “26 in 52 challenge” (#26in52 on Twitter) is Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden. This one is the follow up to Three Day Road (review here) and takes place in contemporary times.

For me this was quite an adjustment from Three Day Road which took place during the First World War. The beginning of the book was slow-going as I got used to the time change, but thankfully Joseph Boyden’s great characters kept me interested and wanting more.

Penguin Books‘ review of the book summarizes it best: When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss.While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties,Will encounters dire troubles at home.

Will’s storyline spoke to me a lot more than his niece Annie’s. It was likely because his experiences seemed real and right in front of my face, especially as his past was revealed as the book went on. Annie’s story was a little more complex, searching for this sister that appeared to be a phantom at times, always eluding her. The lack of background story for Suzanne probably lead to that disconnect, and the hints and clues to who she was, wasn’t enough for me to feel as Annie felt.

This is story is a universal one of self discovery. The path the characters take aren’t ones they’d want to go through, but because of those experiences they have a  stronger understanding of who they are and what’s important to them, in the end.

Boyden says in an interview at the back of the book that he plans on making a third book in this series. I’m excited to see where he goes with the Bird clan. As with this one I still hold out hope that we get to know the story of Xavier a little more. I’d be interested to see how the character transitioned to life after the war, especially since decades separate this story from his canoe journey with Niska. Here’s to hoping.

Have you read Through Black Spruce? What are your thoughts on it?

***Edit: I forgot to rate it! 3.5/5

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About Sean Bailey
Social media specialist who also happens to be a tech geek that's addicted to reading, movies, music, sports and coffee. Anything said on this blog is my opinion (obviously).

2 Responses to Through Black Spruce: A novel of self discovery

  1. Megan Tate says:

    I agree with you Sean. It was NOWHERE as good as “Three Day Road”, but it gradually grew on me. The characters were a little rough around the edges at first, but I slowly began to get into them. I felt more connected to Annie’s character- there was just something about her that I liked and could understand- this kept me reading the book even when I wanted to stop. I didn’t like Will’s character for a long time. He was just not someone that I could emphasize with or like. The character, like the book, grew on me and I wanted to get to know more about him.

    What I find really interesting about Boyden’s writing is that he always ends things on a very positive note. I guess I’m used to more depressing endings, but Boyden always wants to make sure that things are wrapped up happily. Even when the odds of that would have been very slim.

    So in closing, I really did enjoy this book, but I would have liked it to be more associated with “Three Day Road”.

    And Sean- you HAVE to read “Restless” by William Boyd!!!! It is AMAZING! I can’t put it down! It’s about a female British spy during WWII.

    • Sean Bailey says:

      Thanks for the comment Megan!

      I wouldn’t say it was nowhere near as good as TDR .. just that I had different expectations coming in. After I was comfortable with where he was going with the story I began to like it more and more.

      And I will take a look at this book! Hopefully it’s available at BMV as I am cheap haha

      Sean

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