Medicine Walk by Richard WagameseMedicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

Medicine Walk

byRichard Wagamese

Hardcover | April 1, 2014

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By the celebrated author of Canada Reads Finalist Indian Horse, a stunning new novel that has all the timeless qualities of a classic, as it tells the universal story of a father/son struggle in a fresh, utterly memorable way, set in dramatic landscape of the BC Interior. For male and female readers equally, for readers of Joseph Boyden, Cormac McCarthy, Thomas King, Russell Banks and general literary.
      Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon. He's sixteen years old and has had the most fleeting of relationships with the man. The rare moments they've shared haunt and trouble Frank, but he answers the call, a son's duty to a father. He finds Eldon decimated after years of drinking, dying of liver failure in a small town flophouse. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains, so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner.
     What ensues is a journey through the rugged and beautiful backcountry, and a journey into the past, as the two men push forward to Eldon's end. From a poverty-stricken childhood, to the Korean War, and later the derelict houses of mill towns, Eldon relates both the desolate moments of his life and a time of redemption and love and in doing so offers Frank a history he has never known, the father he has never had, and a connection to himself he never expected.
     A novel about love, friendship, courage, and the idea that the land has within it powers of healing, Medicine Walk reveals the ultimate goodness of its characters and offers a deeply moving and redemptive conclusion.
     Wagamese's writing soars and his insight and compassion are matched by his gift of communicating these to the reader.
RICHARD WAGAMESE is one of Canada's foremost writers. He's been a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer, and the author of twelve previous novels, including Keeper'n Me and Indian Horse which was a recent Canada Reads Finalist. He is also the author of acclaimed memoirs, ...
Title:Medicine WalkFormat:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.7 × 1 inPublished:April 1, 2014Publisher:McClelland & StewartLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:077108918X

ISBN - 13:9780771089183

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read Excellent novel about a son abandoned by his father. His father is dying and needs his son to help him find peace. Covering abuse, alcoholism, adoption, parental abandonment, indigenous conditions from WW2 on. Spritiual and family obligations balanced with years of disappointment. Writing was amazing and then I read about the others life and was even more amazed by this book. Feels like the author really put a lot of his life into the characters. Totally recommend this book.
Date published: 2018-07-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Surprisingly Intriguing I wasn't sure what to think of this book at first but the more I read the more I wanted to read. It had a good mix of imagery and character development which is needed in a story. It was an easy read , although the dialogue took a bit of getting used to. Our book club enjoyed it.
Date published: 2018-07-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth Reading One of the most prominent strengths that this book possesses is the constant desire to know what happens next, for most of the book anyways but I’ll get into that later. Another strength that jumps out at me is the ability for Richard Wagamese to create in depth and well developed characters. However, no book is ever truly flaw free. For instance, when I had said that I had the desire to continue reading to find out happened next I had meant that feeling was only present in 2/3s of the novel for me. It may have been because I am not a stranger to Wagamese’s writing, but I do think the plot really narrowed it self-down and got predictable near the end. I have talked to other readers about this point and I have gotten mixed results, some have agreed with me and others had disagreed with me, nevertheless I believe this was a valid point to bring up. Other than that, I had nearly no other cons I could think of at the time of this review. In my opinion, I think Wagamese gave all the necessary components and characteristics for me to form every setting in the book in my mind, from the small mill town of Parson’s Gap to the wilderness of British Columbia, everything was present. Elements such as smell and colour were especially important as well as the other finer details littered throughout the book. As I mentioned earlier, I feel as though characterization is a strong point in Medicine Walk and I have reason to believe this is a common occurrence in most of Richard Wagamese’s novels considering characterization was also strong in Wagamese’s Keeper n’ Me novel. The main characters are developed well with interesting back stories and likeable personalities but this doesn’t take away from the rest of the story. When reading the book I felt as though I could side with every character and understand the pain and struggles they were going though, there were no clear good guy bad guy roles. The plot of the book was well put together and dialogue was clear, easy to follow and understand and to enjoy but not brain numbingly simple. The two main themes, tragedy and substance abuse, are very clear in this story and teach valuable lessons as well as make valuable assets to the story itself. I personally enjoyed the novel and being assigned to read it as a project/assignment did not bother me at all as my interest in the story was maintained throughout the book even though I had most of the plot figured out 2/3 of the way through the book. I would most definitely recommend the book to anyone interested in a shorter novel with an abundance of detail and appealing characters. In conclusion if I had to give this book a rating out of five, I would rate it as three and three quarters to a four out of five.
Date published: 2018-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a good read In my young life I have read many books. Some sad some happy others filled with horror or hope. Medicine walk Is a blend of these different genres. It offers a new taste, a new feeling. It is a book that captivates you and makes you want to keep reading while still being based in realistic fiction, a task that in this age, is hard to achieve. In this review I will be discussing some strength and weakness in the book then my own personal opinion. Strengths This book is filled with strengths it is captivating emotional and can make anyone reflect upon themselves. This book achieves what others book strive to do and that is to make the characters human. It presents the moral struggles we go through day to day and seamlessly integrates them into the narrative of the book. Contrary to other books I feel like this can make a connection with people unlike other mainstream books. With the hunger games we read about Katniss’s struggle, she grew up poor and in a society with a dysfunctional social structure. She volunteers for what is basically certain death and achieves greatness through all odds. That is a great story don’t get me wrong but the problem I have with that story and most other mainstream books is that we don’t see normal people in them. Let me explain. (spoiler warning) In medicine walk we learn about franklin starlight who is called by his father because he is dying. He has to take his father to a mountain so he can die facing east in the warrior way of the Indians. On this journey his dead-beat father who abandoned him through his childhood tries to make up for lost time. He tells life story and his deepest darkest secrets to his son. Now I was expecting that at the end of his book or halfway through the book franklin would forgive his father and his father would become the loving daddy franklin wanted so much. Spoiler that didn’t happen. In the end of the book franklin doesn’t love his dad he doesn’t forgive him hell I’m not sure if he doesn’t still resent him. And his father well his father did go through what I think is the biggest character transformation in all the book. Well not a transformation but a fleshing out of his character that made it seem transformative. This I think is what I liked the most it wasn’t a fairy tale everything didn’t turn out all fine in the end because in real life it usually doesn’t. Franklin goes back to the farm and thinks over what his dad said hoping to forgive him one day and his dad dies knowing that he has at least given his son something in life. That sort of human feeling that realistic feeling is what really made me connect with this book and just not be able to put it down. Weaknesses This book doesn’t have very many weaknesses but the two weaknesses it does have are big. Number one it has a very limited amount of character and forces at play. There are only two real main characters and the rest are side characters that don’t get fleshed out so they seem one dimensional. With me personally I find that when I have a whole cast of characters that it seems to make the book more enjoyable to read. Mainly because I can get invested in characters other than the main one. Number two is the pace. This book is great for reading on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea, but if your picking it up off and on it can really lose that sense of being in the book. The book starts of slow then goes to turtle speed and by the end watching paint dry is faster. Now I’m not saying that how its paces things is boring, but it is slow and can lose feeling. My personal opinion is that this book Is a great read that I’m glad I picked up and read. It provided a connection that usually takes several books to build up and did it in one. It was also based in reality and had deep moral questions posed to the reader and went away from the good guy wins bad guy loses books of today. It does this by making use question who the real bad guy is, and that type of reflection really hooks me into books and cinema. In summation if you have few spare hours I would definitely give this a read.
Date published: 2018-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this author Oh my, Richard Wagamese is both an amazing writer and an amazing soul. He writes beautifully, sparingly and powerfully about heartbreak, betrayal and redemption. My copy of this novel is sticky-noted for the amazing quotes it contains. I plan on reading everything he has written.
Date published: 2018-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Took me off the Prairies Into the Mountains. Into someone else' family. Up a Mountain, to a place with a stranger that is one's own flesh and blood. Took me to the same highlands that Howard O'Hagan's Tay John took me or Patrick Lane's Red Dog, Red Dog. Emphatically recommended
Date published: 2018-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVE This book took me on a journey like no other. I found myself in love with the main characters and learned so much from them. I felt as if I was experiencing the story first hand with how descriptive and thoughtful every word was. It was recommended to me and I recommend it to everyone else.
Date published: 2018-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I thought I would hate this.... I was wrong Wow, I always have a hard time reading books that I am forced to In school but this story is just one I could not put down. Everyone can related in some ways dn it gives you a whole new perspective of some of the thing people you may not realize are going through
Date published: 2018-01-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Okay I'm somewhere on the fence with this novel... This is about Frank Starlight and his father, Eldon, who is dying (for all intents and purposes) of liver failure due to a lifetime of alcohol abuse. Frank is a relatively well-rounded young man, raised by someone not his father. He prefers a life living off the land and being alone; doesn't care much for school and doesn't care much for people. Until his father sends a letter asking for him to come and see him, he didn't know much about his family, either. Eldon asks Frank, a stranger, really, to take him out to the wilderness where he can die and be buried like his history dictates, etc. Frank obliges and they carry on this journey of tales and discovery while Eldon continues to die. The story is okay... I can't explain why it wasn't launched into a category of being better for me. It is softer language and writing, and the landscape described in the novel is very effective. This is certainly emotional, but the dialogue is written in such a way I found it distracting, like I was more focused on trying to imitate what their accents were in my head than focus on the actual narrative and storyline. Strange. I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading the book or others by Wagamese, but I doubt I'll try another of his if they're similar. I think reading Joseph Boyden has ruined me for a lot of others along this line!
Date published: 2017-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing! Any story that Richard Wagamese writes needs to be read. He is probably the most gifted author I have encountered in a long time and Medicine Walk certainly didn't disappoint. This story captivated me right from the start with the language, dialogue, movement, energy, and scenery. It flowed smoothly, mirrored by the soft plodding of the boy and his horse, yet at times the characters' frustrations stumbled as the horse did over rocky terrain. A young Cree teenage boy takes his estranged and dying father into the deep mountainous country of British Columbia and listens to his story before burying him at the top of a cliff. His father's alcoholic past could have had a more positive outcome but he had little to rely on, except for a broken friendship. Wagamese's style includes twists and turns that don't reveal themselves until the time is right. As in his past stories, I didn't anticipate them and was stopped in my tracks a few times. This is a treasure and worth the read.
Date published: 2017-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific I was very happy to have read this book
Date published: 2017-06-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A great novel about the last journey of Frank and Eldin The book is very historical to the point where one beleives it could be true
Date published: 2017-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing amazing book by and amzing author. an aboriginal story original
Date published: 2017-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this Truly and excellent novel. I recommend this book
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Medicine Walk deals with the relationship between a son and an absent father, and focuses on the psychological damage of holding on to guilt, shame, and secrets. Both son and father are illustrated as two men doing what they can to survive emotional turmoil and a sense of loss, though painted in very different ways of coping. Wagamese describes the landscapes with incredible detail, highlights the oral tradition of Indigenous peoples, creates consistent characters and avoids the melodramatic with finesse. It takes time and commitment to read- the plot takes time to become wholly immersive- but the blanks filled when Eldon Starlight begins to open up to his son Frank are worth your patience.
Date published: 2017-03-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Good novel, but not as good as Indian Horse - that one just took my breath away. Still, this was a good read.
Date published: 2017-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Amazing journey of hope and healing Once again Wagamese's talent shines in this coming of age story. While the story is fraught with the pain of loss and struggle, the message is predominantly hopeful; that our stories shape who we are and hope triumphs in the end. It is a testament to humanity, even in the shape of a young boy. Wagamese also continues to celebrate the mysticism of nature and her spirit - it is a powerful force that we all need to respect and revere.
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Heart breaking and wordy A heart breaking but longer than necessary story of an aboriginal boy, the man who raised him and the man who should have. 3/5
Date published: 2017-01-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I really liked it. Had to read it for university and was surprised to find I liked it.
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read Was bored and wanted something to read. I found this book at my dad's house. I finished this that same day. Very moving. A must read.
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's all we are in the end. Our stories. Canadian writer Richard Wagamese, born to Ojibway parents, is perhaps Canada's most profound author in authentically capturing and conveying the realities of Aboriginal life in Canada. The story is a brutal depiction of a young man having to come to terms with a father that abandoned him and yet expects so much from him. Richard Wagamese's breathtaking prose and skillful use of dialogue combine with noteworthy characters creates an unforgettable story! In the Acknowledgments, Richard Wagamese says: In the Ojibway world you go inward in order to express outward. That journey can be harrowing sometimes but it can also be the source of much joy, freedom, and light. There are many who have been there to share in my inward journey and without their light I may not have found the wherewithal and courage to brave the darkness and shadows. Suffice to say, the re-emergence has been amazing and this story was born out of long nights of soul searching and reflection. Excellent book! Thank you for writing this book!
Date published: 2016-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding! Richard Wagamese is like an exquisite painter but instead of paint he uses beautifully crafted words to create the most breath taking images imaginable. "There were coyotes in the field......Six of them. Cavorting. Celebrating moonlight. From where he stood leaning on the bottom half of the door he could see the huff of their breath. Clouds of it roiling then dissipating in the early morning air....and the kid thought of fog and the way it shrouded the land in the frosted wet of spring and autumn, the punch of a ridge or scarp or mountain behind it sudden as a bear....In the phosphorescent glow of the moon he thought he could see their eyes, dilating, peering hard at him with the ancient light of the wild in them..." Sixteen year old Frank Starlight takes a journey with his estranged father into the wilderness and into the past where he learns a history that he never knew. This is a coming of age story like no other. Mr. Wagamese has created characters so rich and detailed that they have become a part of me. This story has it all; sadness, anger, despair, human folly, courage and love. A masterfully told story that I can't wait to read again and again.
Date published: 2016-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Medicine walk Capitivating. Richard Wagamese tells of life's harsh realities. Filled with lessons in truth, courage and survival. Acceptance is hey. Thank you Richard
Date published: 2015-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Amazing. Just amazing. I didn't just read this book, I felt it. It's cliché, but I couldn't put it down. You need to read this book. Right now.
Date published: 2015-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from MEDICINE Walk Much more than I expected the tradgedies of the past can have profound effects on the futures of so many that cross your path. Extremly well written Richard Wagamese knows how to hold your attention all the way from start to finish
Date published: 2015-07-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a deeply moving tale I very much enjoyed Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese. This is a story is about the survival of love; how it can be thwarted and twisted and suppressed and lost, yet still it lives, even if only an ember of its past. It is the story of 16 year old Franklin guiding his father Eldon, whom he has never really known, to his final resting place high in the Nechako region of British Columbia. Gradually and painfully Eldon reveals the story of his life and of Franklin's mother, truly a poignant tale. The story is also about the relationship that Franklin lives with his adoptive father and the unspoken yet felt quality that makes love real. The story paces well and the dialogue mostly speaks true. I loved the description of the land; it is so visual and accurate. For me it became almost haunting, in a good way. I think that Medicine Walk is an important book and thank Richard Wagamese for the journey.
Date published: 2015-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Medicine Walk It peaked my curiosity and therefore I could not put it down. It is another story of the lost souls one can only hope that in writing
Date published: 2015-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Medicine Walk Again another wonderful, insightful tale from Richard. Very touching story about opportunities lost and finding what can come from new opportunities being presented.
Date published: 2015-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deeply moving. A story written with two voices and begs to be read aloud. A search for the truth, long buried by those who know it.
Date published: 2015-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Writing at its very best A story of love ,deep sorrow,and the healing comfort of Mother Nature. The author writes from his soul. Thank you for sharing this story.
Date published: 2015-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A rare self discovery For the first time in my life, book has consumed me enough to wake from a deep sleep for "one more page." each chapter and each page brought me closer to the characters and their visions. Wagamese was brave and vulnerable in this writing, which was like the emotion of a private journal. BC geography, native culture and the raw stories of resilience. Thank you richard. I have shared this with my students who will keep your stories alive!
Date published: 2015-03-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Absorbing Read Liked this book much better than I expected. Vivid sense of place and setting. Characters somewhat cliched but very sympathetic and I was drawn into the narrative very quick. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2015-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Richard Wagamese has done it again and I loved the journey. His writing is so descriptive and his characters are so memorable.
Date published: 2014-12-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Medicine walk Really enjoyed it.
Date published: 2014-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Medicine Walk I love this author and the stories he shares. A true master. Another must read.
Date published: 2014-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Medicine Walk Beautifully written. I loved every word.
Date published: 2014-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The medicine walk Excellent story! Thoughtful and written in a manner that pulls you into the character's world. Excellent description of the natural world.
Date published: 2014-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Medicine Walk As always this most amazing writer, Richard Wagamese, took me on a journey that opened my heart just a bit more. The descriptions of the land, the forests, and those who rode through it are some of the best I have ever read. Miigwetch.
Date published: 2014-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Medicine Walk Loved the book left me with a feeling of beauty and peace.
Date published: 2014-04-05

Editorial Reviews

“With Medicine Walk, Richard Wagamese has become a master. This brilliant novel is his heart song, his crowning achievement thus far.” – Joseph Boyden “In Medicine Walk, Wagamese manages the nuances of betrayal and redemption with uncommon artistry.  It is a breathtaking novel of sorrow, hope and polished steel.” – Thomas King “A deeply felt and profoundly moving novel, written in the kind of sure, clear prose that brings to mind the work of the great North American masters; Steinbeck among them. But Wagamese's voice and vision are also completely his own, as is the important and powerful story he has to tell.” – Jane Urquhart “Medicine Walk recounts the mythic journey of an estranged father and son who are searching for reconciliation and love. Richard Wagamese’s novel renders the Canadian wilderness with staggering insight and beauty.  The same can be said for his understanding of the fragility, wildness and resilience of the human heart. Magnificent.”  – Lisa Moore “Medicine Walk is a masterpiece, a work of art that explores human interconnectedness with a level of artistry so superb that the personal becomes eternal.” – National Post “A moving story…. Wagamese balances the novel’s spiritual and political subtexts with sly humour, sharp, believable dialogue and superb storytelling skills. Medicine Walk is a major accomplishment from an author who has become one of Canada’s best novelists.” – Toronto Star “This is very much a novel about the role of stories in our lives, those we tell ourselves about ourselves and those we agree to live by…. Wagamese understands that the stories we don’t tell are as important as the ones we do….But Medicine Walk is also testament to the redemptive power of love and compassion.” – Globe and Mail “One of the finest novels of the year…. Medicine Walk is not only a graceful book, it is a novel of grace, of coming to terms with hidden truths, of coming to know the secrets behind forbidding appearances, of finding the humanity within strangers.” – Vancouver Sun “An essential read…. Superbly written.” – Now Magazine (NNNN)