Three Day Road by JOSEPH BOYDENThree Day Road by JOSEPH BOYDEN

Three Day Road


Paperback | May 6, 2008

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It is 1919, and Niska, the last Oji-Cree woman to live off the land, has received word that one of the two boys she saw off to the Great War has returned. Xavier Bird, her sole living relation, is gravely wounded and addicted to morphine. As Niska slowly paddles her canoe on the three-day journey to bring Xavier home, travelling through the stark but stunning landscape of Northern Ontario, their respective stories emerge—stories of Niska’s life among her kin and of Xavier’s horrifying experiences in the killing fields of Ypres and the Somme.


JOSEPH BOYDEN's first novel, Three Day Road, was selected for the Today Show Book Club, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the CBA Libris Fiction Book of the Year Award, and the in Canada First Novel Award, and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. His second novel, Through Bl...
Title:Three Day RoadFormat:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 8.2 × 5.21 × 1.03 inPublished:May 6, 2008Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143056956

ISBN - 13:9780143056959

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully Created Characters! Following the journey of the characters in this book brings you to multiple worlds, emotions, and heart aches. This was a wonderfully written book from cover to cover. I couldn't put it down! An incredible book portraying strength in mankind, and strength in a culture.
Date published: 2018-10-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic! I read this novel in grade 12 for a unit on Canadian Literature. To me, Joseph Boyden taught me so much through this novel about First Nations culture and how WWI affected their culture so drastically. Boyden is an incredible author who really paints a picture of the scene he is trying to create. There were several scenes where the picture was too graphic and I didn't enjoy it too much, but overall it's a fantastic book!
Date published: 2018-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Forever a Re-Read I read this in high school and fell in love with it, and since then I can read this book multiple times and not sick of it.
Date published: 2018-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great! I read this in high school, it was an assigned book and I'm so glad we read it. It was certainly told in a way that i have not come across before and I quite liked that. I hope it stays on as required reading material.
Date published: 2018-06-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Tells, doesn't show. The subject matter has all the makings of something I should love. Indigenous snipers in the CEF in WWI. There is a documentary quality to Boyden's writing that makes reading a chore. A lot of telling and not enough showing. The frame narrative is about 1000% more interesting than the main one, not to mention that the choice to essentially turn Francis Pegahmagabow into a composite character is pretty lazy. The prevalence of morphine addiction is profoundly overstated and the way that Xavier and Elijah both seem to have served in every major Canadian battle in the war rings false to me. It's one of those works of Canadian literature that is supposed to be indispensable, but ends up reading as nothing more than a 350 page Canada Heritage Moment. Ah well.
Date published: 2018-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from New Favourite I loved this book sooooo much. You have to read it. Boyden combines WW1 with Aboriginal history so seamlessly. It is beautiful!
Date published: 2018-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Book This book really gripped me. I've read several other WWI novels but this one really stood out. The stories were familiar but the perspective was quite different. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2018-04-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Touching Well-written. Touching. A must-read. The book was very detailed. You can tell a lot of heart and research went into this.
Date published: 2018-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the greatest books I've ever read. This book is a gift. Well written, moving, and a book I will keep on my bookshelf forever. My mere review simply cannot do this book justice. A coworker of mine insisted that I pick this book for my book club, and I did. I did not regret it. Now, I pay it forward. Just. Read. This. Book. You will not regret it either.
Date published: 2018-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So good! The amount of research that must have went into this book is amazing. Boyden's detailed descriptions gave such a clear image to the hardships of war. The tale unfolds beautifully and the character development is great. This was the first book I read of his and once finished I immediately went out and bought all his other ones 10/10 recommend to anybody
Date published: 2018-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Different perspective on war This novel gives an excellent perspective on the hardships of war and the toll that it takes on those involved. A enthralling read, at times I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2018-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this We need to learn more about native soldiers that have sacrificed their lives, and this book is perfect for that.
Date published: 2018-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting I loved this book, it is a great read. I was hooked in the first chapter and couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2017-12-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from OK Id probably give it 2.5 if I could because it was a page turner and I ended up reading it in three sessions. But it seemed artificial and rang a little hollow. Has some similarities to Legends of the Fall (which also featured the CEF) like scalping. Also there is a lot of unnecessarily descriptive sex, which IMO is only there for titillation. Would make for a successful Hollywood film though.
Date published: 2017-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Gift for a Reader Bought this for my grand mother for Christmas last year, knowing her taste in books. She said is was one of the best gifts she had ever received and that the book was phenomenal.
Date published: 2017-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! I was given this book - the second I had ever read by this author. A very detailed account of WW2 from an Indigenous person's perspective. A wonderful writer, believable story and extremely well written. Looking forward to reading the sequel. Definitely would recommend this book.
Date published: 2017-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dark and disturbing well written book but so sad and actually quite disturbing.
Date published: 2017-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Haunting and Moving Read I finished the book a week ago, but cannot get it out of my mind. It is one of those reads which stays with you long after the final word. Boyden has a talent in bringing the reader into the story. The characters were moving and well developed. He did an excellent job of bringing to life the little known stories of the First Nation soldiers who fough in WW1. Would recommend this book.
Date published: 2017-08-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not bad Though this novel isn't one of the greats, it serves as a useful tool for understanding the native american presence in WW1
Date published: 2017-07-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Moving Piece Of Litterature This felt so real. All of the flashbacks. Everything the characters lived, felt, heard, saw. I personally couldn't relate to any of it but while I was reading I felt I had been part of it. The love, the joy, the hate, the pain, I felt I was there. Beautifully written.
Date published: 2017-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book! My teacher made us read this for school and is definitely one of my all time favourites. It was beautifully written and so intriguing. I recommend this to everyone!
Date published: 2017-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent Another wonderful Boyden novel
Date published: 2017-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it Very good novel set in the after years of the war
Date published: 2017-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from thoughtful read I lived in Moosonee and got to know the folks this story was based on. Because of that, I couldn't put it down. I felt a deeper connection and understood more of the perspective because of my experiences up the coast. I know that I would have loved this book if I had not lived up there, but there was much more personal investment in it for me. Thanks for the great read Joseph!
Date published: 2017-05-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh This book isn't horrible but it isn't amazing either. I've read it twice now but I couldn't get myself to like it. I found there was no rise in action. It is however a good story about the Indigenous peoples of Canada and what their struggle in WW1 was like. That part of the book is what made me try and like it again.
Date published: 2017-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful This is a beautifully written book. The way that Boyden switches between narrators is seamless and effective. An intense and important read.
Date published: 2017-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic read from beginning to end. A truly enchanting journey and beautiful story told by a very talented writer. I know Boyden has come under fire recently - and rightfully so - but I still have to acknowledge is tremendous ability to write.
Date published: 2017-04-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from OK read this book wasn't bad; it was a little slow at times but a decent book.
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent By far my favorite Boyden book. Very powerful read.
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down! Great read, I couldn't put it down. If you are a fan of historical non-fiction or war time novels this is for you!
Date published: 2017-03-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Another great Boyden read!!!
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay Read this for school. Despite Boyden's questionable heritage.. It's a very well written book, intriguing and educational. I like it, although soldiers in the war are not my favourite subject.
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read Love this author and this book!
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Read I was given this book as a gift and after reading this I needed to read every Joseph Boyden book. This is an amazing read just like all his other books. I highly recommend.
Date published: 2017-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from my favourite book read it first in high school and im not sure if its still childish love... but this book still has my heart. amazing story and amazing telling. read this if you like canadian fiction
Date published: 2017-02-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad Interesting narrative, storyline changes up a lot making it difficult to put down. Xavier's perspective on the war is great to read.
Date published: 2017-02-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not Worth Your Time Though educational in the sense that this book talks a lot about the first world war, there is too much going on. Boyden is trying way too hard to be creative and interesting. From scalping, to snaring men, to multiple vivid sex scenes, and everything in between, this book is simply trying too hard to be different. It started off strong, but quickly went downhill.
Date published: 2017-01-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing Book Such an emotional book, but a great read! Gives great insight into some of the situations that might have occurred for Indigenous peoples. An extremely valuable book to read.
Date published: 2017-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life Changing Book I read this book in 12th grade for school, and I was worried it would be hard to get into, but that was not the case. This book is super rich. Great read.
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Read Worth the read. Read it in grade 10 and still can remember it years later!
Date published: 2017-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful and poignant This is a book that'll stay with you for a long time after you close it.
Date published: 2017-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book I read this book in my English class and loved it so much!
Date published: 2016-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great work of Canadian Literature This piece of Canadian literature is amazing and pleasure to read. Written in a double narrative, you cannot stop turning the pages to discover the ultimate ends of colourful and intriguing characters.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Favourite A war story about friendship, triumph, addiction and traditional aboriginal medicine and life. Details from this author are one in a million and all of his books should be read by every canadian to get a grasp onto our heritage.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read! One of the best books I have read.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engrossing A great story about the contribution of Aboriginals to the war effort.
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the Best Books I've Read All Year A novel that begins at the end, and ends with a beginning. Three Day Road is a stunning debut from one of Canada’s foremost writers, Joseph Boyden. When Xavier Bird returns from WWI addicted to morphine and wounded, his aunt Niska embarks with him on a three-day journey towards their home in the Northern Ontario bush. As Niska paddles along towards their home, the reader slides seamlessly between Xavier’s remembrances of his time at war and Niska’s account of Xavier as a boy. Central to the novel is the uncertain fate of Xavier’s childhood friend and fellow soldier, Elijah Whiskeyjack. As Xavier and Niska make their way closer to their home, so too does a stunning revelation about Elijah and Xavier’s acts creep closer. From its opening chapter, Three Day Road sets itself up as a book that would put me through the wringer. The novel’s descriptive passages are evocative and powerful. As Elijah and Xavier traipse through the mud, muck, and murder of various WWI killing-fields, I could vividly imagine their struggles and the horrific scope of the world in which they were forced to survive. This is sharply contrasted with the expressive and majestic way in which Boyden paints the wild of Northern Ontario. As alluded to earlier, scenes in which Xavier shoots morphine in the canoe allow for him to slip seamlessly back to the past. The experience was much the same for me as there are never any hiccups as the novel shifts between alternate stories. The book also resonates with authenticity: the aboriginal themes, thoughts, and practices ring true and never feel forced. Indeed, the three Cree leads are strong, fully developed and interesting characters whose cultural experiences deeply influence their world-view. Elijah and Xavier both fall victim to the torrid world of residential schools, and are enticed up by the promise of glory and adventure that the war will provide. As Niska details her own life, we also see how government has smothered her culture as she clings on to her way of life. Cree mythology also plays a central part in the structure of the novel and the Bird family legacy returns time and again to drive home a powerful theme. There is so much contained in this novel that it is impossible to do it justice in a 500-word review. The story swept me away, and though it does read slowly, it never felt as if I was putting in work to finish. Xavier’s childhood innocence, his devolution in Europe, and his attempted rehabilitation by his aunt are all told in tandem to make for a staggeringly ambitious first novel. The writing is rich and illustrative, the story neatly tucked into place at its conclusion, and the characters are all compelling. Though a challenging read in content, writing, and emotion, Three Day Road is essential reading for those in Canada and beyond.
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Amazing story, beautifully narrated between from X and Niska. The bond and connection they have is incredible. I have bought multiple copies of this book as gifts!
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Read! I loved this book. It has so much emotion built in with a strong plot and conflict. I enjoyed how the narrator switched between X and Niska, intertwining their stories. I am currently using this in my Grade 12 English Class!!!
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful story delicately told I read this book a couple of years ago and I still think about X and Niska. So often inner conflict is overshadowed by outward events but Boyden explores just how much damage combat can do on the soul as well as the body.
Date published: 2015-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fine Read I happened to be reading the Orenda in a restaurant when another patron passed by and suggested I read Three Day Road. I'm glad I listened. It proved to be equally engaging. Others have commented on the time shifting but I found it all seamless and meaningful. It is sensitive, tender and speaks of a world about which I know nothing. His descriptions of the war are graphic but they deliver a deeply felt meaningful relationship between men. It feels like it is very well researched without being a history lesson. Nicely written and certainly memorable.
Date published: 2015-09-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fabulous! After reading The Orenda and then Walk Through Black Spruce I simply had to read Three Day Road. I wasn't disappointed. This gut wrenching story (two stories actually) of Xavier Bird takes the reader back in time and onto the battlefields of The Great War where I couldn't help but feel as if I was right there in the trenches. Boyden's meticulous attention to detail create a picture so real that at times I could almost smell the horrors of the war. I learned a great deal about WW1, and more importantly, about the critical roles that Native Canadians played during this war. Along side Xavier's story is his Aunt Niska's. Here we learn about the amazing strength and courage of a Cree woman, who escaped from Residential school and nurtured her gifts as a see'er, and later helped rescue her nephew, Xavier from the same school, when he was five years old. Told in a dual first person style of narration, It was tricky at first to keep the two voices straight, but it was well worth the effort. Both stories were deep and full of sadness, but there was always a strong sense of hope and love that kept them grounded. In the end it was the deep love/bond between Xavier and Niska that helps each of them survive.
Date published: 2015-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerhouse Words cannot describe the depth, gravity, and importance of this book. As a Canadian, I know the rare privilege we have as a nation of such long-standing, profound peace is unimaginable to many. I also know the respect we have as a country throughout the rest of the world is not something others will share. But mostly, I know both of these things were hard won and the reason we wake each day speaking the languages we do, knowing we can marry whomever we wish and pray to whatever God we like without fear of death or persecution is because millions of people have died for us--too many of them my own countrymen--in the past century. If ever this sentiment is forgotten, reading this book will bring back in waves the sacrifice it took from these young men and women so that we may live as comfortably as we do. Human beings left for war, though rarely did they return as such. I'm not going to go into detail about the storyline: the synopsis above does a good job. This is a young man's story, a bright-eyed Native Canadian named Xavier who has come home from WWI to die, and is the last of his Aunt Niska's family. Their stories are humbling, upsetting, amazing, and mostly a haunting reminder of what so many gave up--even if they were able to return--for generations they would never know. I was forced to read this in stages, not because it was slow or boring or difficult, but because the emotions it carried, the pure force of his writing and how inside a soldier's head I became required time to absorb and reflect on what had just happened. I think this novel is Boyden's 'thank you' to Native Canadians, to every Canadian, for what they did in the wars, and for many who didn't know what they were getting into. I think this is also his way to parallel what was happening to many Native Canadians and their culture at the time while a war was raging overseas. The horrors of war are tangible in this novel and linger; what may have been most upsetting was knowing what it did to these young people. Reading about their bravery, about their utter relentlessness in France (and elsewhere) found me crying like a baby at times, only wishing I could thank them, useless as it might be, for everything they did. Boyden hits home in a big way with flawless writing, turn of phrase, and character development that makes you give a damn about what happens to these people. Having just finished the Orenda earlier this year, this novel has cemented in my mind that he may, in fact, be the most talented and readable Canadian author living. (No offence to every other amazing, talented Canadian author currently living.) Please read this.
Date published: 2015-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Aborigional War Contribution This was an eye opener for me regarding the aboriginal contribution to WW l. It is a poignant lesson on the realities of war. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Date published: 2015-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is an incredible book! For me, Three Day Road has been one of my best read in a long time. The subjects are not easy: WWI, residential schools, addiction, etc, but at the same time, provide an enriching experience through the descriptions. It is very descriptive; very graphic, which allows the reader the picture the scenes very vividly, whether they be tragic or more positive. Although the story shifts from one place to the next, it flows well and is not difficult to follow. Thank you to Joseph Boyden for this glimpse back in dark times: it allowed me to better understand the role of Canadians in WWI and specifically of populations that often have not been recognized for their valuable contribution (native indians). I also enjoyed reading about the traditions of Cree and Ojibwe through Niska. It was rich and poignant.  
Date published: 2014-03-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Started off slowly, but picked up in second half 3.5 stars The focus in this book is primarily on two Cree best friends who become snipers, fighting for Canada in World War I. The book does flip back and forth between the viewpoint of Xavier (one of the snipers) and his aunt, Niska, who raised him. The first half of the book was pretty slow-going for me. But it really picked up in the second half, I thought. The best parts of the book were the WWI scenes, in my opinion. I often had trouble at the beginning of each chapter, not following right away whose viewpoint we were following at that point. The book also jumped around when it came to the time frame – during the war, Xavier growing up, Niska when she was younger, after the war, etc. - so I found that a bit confusing at times, as well. Overall, though, it was good. I'm glad I finally read it.
Date published: 2012-09-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good, but not that great. After reading all the (mostly rave) reviews for this book I thought I'd give it a try. It's been a while since I read it but I remember feeling as though it didn't stack up to all the hype surrounding it. It was definitely a good book, it just wasn't wonderful or mind-blowing for me. Some parts were a little hard to get through for the graphic, disturbing imagery, although I appreciate that Boyden didn't sugarcoat his subject matter. I found Niska's side of the story, about living off the land in the traditional Native way, interesting. As for Xavier's story... he was a real and well-developed character and I definitely felt compassion for him. And I was more and more sickened by Elijah as time went on. But all the details of the war didn't enthrall me. I guess that's just not a topic that interests me. One thing I remember clearly is that it wasn't one of those books where I had a hard time putting it down and couldn't wait to pick it up again. It wasn't an absorbing, page-turning read for me. It was good, but not great... not my cup of tea I guess.
Date published: 2011-08-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good, light read I don't read much of this type of fiction, however at the recommendation of a friend I picked it up. An unchallenging, light, quick read that is quite satisfying for what it is; a glimpse into 2 past worlds. My only real criticism would be that in a book this short the conclusion leaves something to be desired; the author would have been better served to close the circle. Even so, good read.
Date published: 2011-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "I have experienced war in these pages" This novel is not for the faint-hearted, the descriptions of trench warfare are brutally accurate, but beyond that, you will be dazzled with some of the best writing ever to grace a page. Joseph Boyden hasn't just walked onto the Canadian literary scene, he has blown it's doors off, with both guns blazing! I doubt anyone could write from a native perspective with more accuracy, or sensitivity. One of the most talented writers in this country, and we Canadians know about talented writers. Stunning!
Date published: 2011-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "It reads like you're watching a movie"... ...was my son's comment. Has a more VIVID account of setting out by canoe for Toronto - or life in the trenches, been written? Everything else in your world will find itself on 'hold' until you get (safely) to the end of this one. Sadly, not everyone makes it. And war really is "hell".
Date published: 2011-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from READ THIS BOOK This was one of those rare books that I didn't want to end. I was so engaged in the story that I didn't want to put it down and I wished it was longer. It was like a drug and I couldn't get enough. This book should be required reading in Canadian schools for three reasons. I believe it paints a great/horrific picture of WWI, it tells the story of the travisty that residential schools had on the native way of life, and it is a great work of literature. I also loved how this book ties into Boyden's follow up book, Through Black Spruce (which is also a great read).
Date published: 2011-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful I'm not a fan of war novels but this book has such a beautiful spiritual element of healing to it that it really moved me. Plus many elements of the book were new to me and so I also found I learned a lot by reading it. Overall, a very beautiful and touching book.
Date published: 2010-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This should be a mandatory read for all High School students Could hardly put it down. It's one of those very rare stories that touches something inside you, takes you there, let's you imagine you're right alongside Xavier and Elijah. Shakespeare was good, but our students should be reading novels like this, to learn from our history, to better understand some of the individuals who sacrificed themselves to serve our country. Yes, the novel could be considered graphic, I believe the story would not be the same without it, and in fact brings a much higher level of realism to the story, which many that simply gloss over or ignore the graphic nature of what happened simply can't acheive.
Date published: 2010-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Could not put down The characters in this book are magical. Such historical drama played out in a way you've never expected. I did not want the book to end and when it did, I went right into Through Black Spruce which was just as gripping. Such wonderful reading I recommend it to all my friends.
Date published: 2010-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One Hell of a Story A great book written through the eyes of two native people during the period of WW1. Gripping and unpredictable, will leave you wanting more. We follow the two characters as one deals with being an outsider in the battlefields of europe, while the other deals with the onslaught of European colonization in western Canada. You wont be able to put this one down
Date published: 2010-04-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Absorbing I enjoyed thisnovel although there is a lot of disturbing subject matter. It made me think of the sacrifices all Canadians have made for our freedom. I would definitely recommend it.
Date published: 2010-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If only it were longer. Three Day Road is a story of two Cree boys (bush Cree, they clarify, not plains Cree) who join up to fight with the Canadians in World War I. The book is written as a retrospective – my favourite structure. I love it when you know the end, but you have to read the book to find out what led to it: how the characters got to their destinations. Niska, Xavier’s aunt, is an Ojibwe-Cree woman living alone, and off the land. In 1919 she receives word that Xavier, who she raised from childhood and who is her only surviving relative, is returning from France. She goes to the city to meet the train. On the three-day canoe journey home, with Xavier broken in mind and body, they unfold their stories to each other. There aren’t many characters in Three Day Road…or, more accurately, the three central figures are so intense, so absorbing, that the other people seem washed out by comparison. Xavier, Elijah, and Niska, their internal conflicts, their memories, and their actions, dominate the emotional landscape. Boyden has drawn them with impressive skill, using their voices carefully and consistently. Three Day Road is a glorious novel. There is a lot of pain in its pages, but the stories of trench warfare and the slow erosion of sanity and dignity are not what haunt my memory most clearly. What survives in my mind are images of the Northern Ontario forest, the glimpses into the traditional ways of the Cree, and, most important of all, the characters’ internal beauty.
Date published: 2009-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from INCREDIBLE Three Day Road has left an indeligible mark on my heart and my soul. It left me wanting more.
Date published: 2009-11-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Heavy but compelling read Three Day Road is a very heavy read. It is about two Cree Soldiers in the Canadian military during World War I, the descent into madness by one, and the power of love from an Auntie who saves the other. This is Boyden's debut novel and is a compelling read that successfully weaves the past, present and the storylines of Xavier with Elijah during the war, and with Xavier and Niska, his Aunt, in the "present." I found I needed to be in the right frame of mind to read it, and I definately did not read it at night before sleeping! The scenes of war are brutal in their realism, and Elijah's behaviour will likely turn your stomach. But what is fascinating is how the author so masterfully and seamlessly tells the story from varying perspectives and time frames. The story opens with Niska at the train station waiting for her nephew Elijah as she has been told that her other nephew, Xavier, has died in the war. But the gaunt and injured soldier that departs the train is not Elijah, but a morphine addicted and severely damaged Xavier who Niska then takes to her canoe for the long slow river ride back home. And on that journey we learn of all of the horrifac things Xavier has seen, done and lived through. The flashbacks to war where Elijah, although a dispicable man, becomes a hero, and Xavier his silent witness to his friend's plummet to hell. During the slow river ride Xavier is unable to eat due to his addiction, but Niska "feeds" him with many stories from her childhood and his. She nourishes him with stories of his culture, his people, and his family. This book, though well written, was a tough read for me. It was upsetting on many levels, but I can say I'm glad I read it. During the last few weeks my family and I have been having some email discussions of our feelings about it at various points of the read, and at the very least we will be able to have some very good discussions at our Book Club Dinner in a couple of weeks
Date published: 2009-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Book I've Ever Read Absolutely enthralling. There is so much meaning on so many levels. I will never forget the life of Xavier Bird.
Date published: 2009-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This can't be fiction! I loved it! A must read for any book club. The Cree, Xavier's encounters of war on the front lines are spell-binding. Couldn't put the book down! The life of his solitary aunt in the northern bush is remarkable.
Date published: 2009-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fantastic read! I loved this story. I read some of the reviews assigned to 'Through Black Spruce', and wondered, 'is this the same author they are talking about?' Perhaps the other book ISN"T as good as this one, I don't know yet, but I have to say, I was mesmerized by this book, and I would recommend it to anyone. I found that Boyden captures the feelings of those of us who live in the North, particularly Northern Ontario, extremely well, and his imagery is wonderful. This should be required reading for high school history classes!
Date published: 2009-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptional! One of the finest books I've read ever. Makes you appreciate war's profound impact on the soldiers who took part in all wars, not just WWI. The main characters take you to a part of our history which I was unaware of, using our natives specifically as snipers. It also takes you to a dark part of our psyche which is frightening in its starkness. However, it also takes you to a special place of family. I could not put it down till it was done and then I was sad that it was.
Date published: 2009-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It restored my faith in Canlit I adore Joseph Boyden's book and added it to the reading list of my grade 12 students who have been delighted with how clever this powerful story is. This novel echoes the Cain and Abel story, told against the backdrop of the First World War.
Date published: 2009-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read One other reviewer said it right - "wow". This is an intense book that I think every Canadian should read. Boyden does a fantastic job of detailing the Canadian contribution to WW1 and the horrible, sometimes disturbing reality of that war. It is the story of two young aboriginal men that volunteer for WW1. The story alternates between the one surviving man recounting their experiences in Europe during the war and his Aunt (Niska) who is telling him stories of her youth and the old ways of the Cree. Some of the stories of the war are disturbing. That was the reality of WW1 (and most wars in my opinion) and Boyden does not gloss over the facts. The Canadian efforts at Vimy Ridge, Ypres, Somme and Paschedaele are all outlined. Niska's stories are also facsinating. As she is paddling her nephew home she recounts stories of her life which highlight aboriginal spirituality and culture. Her childhood was during a time before reservations and the 'white man' and it was very interesting to read about the 'old ways'. This book is a tribute to the sacrifices made by all our young Canadian heroes in WW1, especially the aboriginal men. I recommend this book to everyone!
Date published: 2009-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow. This is by far one of the best books I have ever read. The way Boyden writes, you don't feel as if you are reading his words, but rather, experiencing them. His descriptions of World War I make you think he must have lived through it, even though his age makes that impossible. There have been few books that have moved me in such a way as this story. Reading it around Remembrance Day gave me such a newfound appreciation for what our veterans and soldiers currently fighting over seas have done and continue to do. The characters were incredibly complex and layered. I felt as though I knew them because of how deeply Boyden goes in fleshing them out. Bottom line is, I loved this book and urge everyone to read it at least once.
Date published: 2008-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Three day road This is a wonderful novel, beautifully written with a great complex story. I think this gave a new perspective of WWI for Canadians because the main character is First Nations cree. Joseph Boyden writes about tradition, history, inequality and the costs of war. This is definitely a must read.
Date published: 2008-10-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An intense, yet satisfying read... Three Day Road is the story of Xavier Bird, a young Aboriginal man who has returned to Northern Ontario after fighting in World War I. Through the use of vivid descriptions, Boyden manages to transport the reader back to a very difficult time in history, particularly for Aboriginal people. Although Three Day Road is replete with intense descriptions of the horrors of war, he offers the reader moments of reprieve by entwining within it, the story of Niska, who is not only Xavier’s aunt, but “the last Oji-Cree medicine woman to live off the land” (back cover). The fact that I was able to read this novel to the end despite the intensity of the content is a tribute to Boyden’s tremendous storytelling ability. Furthermore, without neglecting the story Boyden educates readers about the realities of the Canadian Aboriginal experience, both historically and today. Three Day Road is told with an authentic voice and only occasional reminders that Niska’s story is in fact being told by a man. Rather than describing a series of events, Boyden captures the humanity of the people in the story so that the reader is able to understand them beyond what a cursory glance would provide. For obvious reasons, Boyden’s story is particularly relevant today; however, it also serves as a reminder that the casualties of war are not only those who do not return home.
Date published: 2008-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding My Canadian history classes didn't teach us about what the natives did during WWI, and in fact far less is available in books and movies of this war than of WWII. This book takes a specific man's story and opens us to some natives contribution and to the horrific Canadian experience of the war. Its told by him and his aunt, the last of their tribe. Very griping and reachable. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2008-06-25

Editorial Reviews

“It’s gripping, wrenching, eye-opening, illuminating, stirring, moral (not moralistic) fiction, rooted in closely observed fact…Boyden, like Homer in The Iliad, is precise and unflinching in his descriptions of the ways in which soldiers fall in battle…This novel is a remarkable achievement, and a breathtaking debut.” - The Globe and Mail“The writing is minimalist, the characters vivid, the pace measured, the hold on the reader firm…This book will stir up controversy, win awards, hit bestseller lists, and spawn a feature film. Count on it.” - The Montreal Gazette“Three Day Road, his first novel, will stand beside Timothy Findley’s classic The Wars as a moving account of the Great War from a Canadian perspective, but Boyden has delivered something new…The cinematic battle scenes blaze with intensity and the riveting climax of the boys’ friendship feels brutal and inevitable. It satisfies even as it shocks…the writing is glorious and shines with real immediacy…Boyden is a remarkable storyteller. Three Day Road is an unforgettable and valuable depiction of the aboriginal Canadian experience in the First World War and at home.” - The National Post"You will never forget these two young Cree snipers plunged in the horror of the First World War, where the enemy was so close that one could smell him. A beautifully written and haunting story of survival and innocence shattered, of friendship, death, redemption and love of the land. The three protagonists, Xavier, Elijah and Niska will be in my heart forever. Please, please don't miss it!" - Isabel Allende“Three Day Road is as fine a novel as I have seen during the five years I have been reading first novels. My prediction is that it will win every award for which it is nominated, and that it will become a Canadian and international classic.” - W.P. Kinsella, Books in Canada“The extraordinary richness of Boyden’s prose and his material, both in the forgotten history he’s recovered and his electric metaphors, make Three Day Road one of the finest novels in an already rich national tradition.” - Maclean’s“Three Day Road is a devastatingly truthful work of fiction, and a masterful account of hell and healing. This is a grave, grand and passionate book.” - Louise Erdrich“Three Day Road is that rarest of books: It works on different levels for different readers. It can be enjoyed as a military history, a study of the tragedy of First Nations people in Canada or simply as a strong literary novel set again a First World War backdrop. Read it and see for yourself.” - The Vancouver Sun“a tale that’s pure magic…Boyden’s braided stories twine together to a surprisingly gentle ending. There is death –many deaths –but there is also rebirth and beauty in this author’s passionate storytelling as in the world he describes.” -“Three Day Road [is] a stunning, epic story…has a greatness about it…” - Winnipeg Free Press“This poignant tale weaves together magic, hubris and plain good storytelling, making it one of the best Canadian literature offerings of the season.” - The Calgary Herald“Perhaps the most startling success of this book is the way it combines a tale of racial and cultural displacement with a mystic saga…. He guides us through immensely complex stories with subtlety and grace.” - Independent on Sunday“There have been so many fine novels inspired by the First World War that to read one that is not just harrowing, but fresh, comes as a pleasant surprise…. (it’s) a fully rounded work of fiction which, after a quiet opening, develops into a real page-turner……. His portrait of an indigenous people who are, in their way, hunted to near-extinction is poignant and convincing.” - Sunday Telegraph“Boyden strips away unnecessary embellishments and tells his story with the starkness and simplicity that does justice to the raw worlds of bush and trench. It is an absorbing read, with chilling, exhaustive detail about the butchery of animals and soldiers. But the net effect is rewarding – hallucinatory, even – as the reader is drawn into the Cree network of spirits, voices and stories.” - Scotland on Sunday“It takes an exceptionally intense and clear vision for a writer to persuade us that there is anything new to be said about the Great War, now creeping steadily towards its centenary anniversary. Yet every now and then a book comes along (or, in the case of Pat Barker, a trilogy) that rescues from the mire and carnage a genuinely new perspective on the awful events of 1914-1918. Focusing on the rarely-told stories of indigenous people enlisted into the Canadian army, Joseph Boyden’s first novel, Three Day Road, is one such book……. What sets Boyden’s writing alongside other notable war novels is the way in which the fighting, for all the grim detail, does not dominate his other, broader themes. He succeeds in driving the narrative along with sufficient dramatic incident to satisfy his brothers, but what haunts the book are the more insidious developments offsetting the conflict in Europe.” - The Glasgow Herald“Simply, beautifully, Boyden takes us into the minds and hearts of his characters. The result is an otherworldly reading experience…this is that rare novel that illuminates the past for the present – for all time, in fact.” - New Orleans Times Picayune“Three Day Road is a compelling read, beautifully told, and timeless in its lessons.” - Rick Bass“There are also lyrical moments which posses an eerie power - especially where Boyden writes about the northern landscape and the human relationship to it. He has illuminated a forgotten corner of the Great War and that, in itself is a prodigious achievement.” - The Independent