Medicine Walk

Medicine Walk

Book - 2015
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"A novel about the role of stories in our lives, those we tell ourselves about ourselves and those we agree to live by." -Globe and Mail When Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, he has mixed emotions. Raised by the old man he was entrusted to soon after his birth, Frank is haunted by the brief and troubling moments he has shared with his father, Eldon. When he finally travels by horseback to town, he finds Eldon on the edge of death, decimated from years of drinking. The two undertake difficult journey into the mountainous backcountry, in search of a place for Eldon to die and be buried in the warrior way. As they travel, Eldon tells his son the story of his own life-from an impoverished childhood to combat in the Korean War and his shell-shocked return. Through the fog of pain, Eldon relates to his son these desolate moments, as well as his life's fleeting but nonetheless crucial moments of happiness and hope, the sacrifices made in the name of love. And in telling his story, Eldon offers his son a world the boy has never seen, a history he has never known"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Minneapolis : Milkweed Editions, 2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781571311153
1571311157
9781571319319
Branch Call Number: FICTION WAGAMES RICHARD
Characteristics: 245 pages ; 23 cm

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A beautifully, sparely written novel about a young man and his estranged father, who find themselves on a final walk together. Franklin Starlight, an Ojibway teenager, knows next to nothing about his family, or his past. Along comes (returns) Eldon, his alcoholic absentee father, who takes Franklin on a last “medicine walk” to try and reconnect and finally share Frank’s history.

This was so beautiful. There are no saccharine, overtly emotional scenes. Richard Wagamese writes with careful expertise, and we share so much with these two characters without having too much unnecessary actual dialogue. Nature plays a great and important role, calming and vast, giving the Starlight men a world to disappear into.

This is a story about making mistakes, finding forgiveness, and moving on. There are no pleading excuses from Eldon, no righteous speeches from Frank. The themes of loyalty, family, love, and finding peace within yourself are all here, and explored beautifully. I look forward to reading more of Wagamese’s titles. (Submitted by Veronica)

Vero_biblio Oct 16, 2018

Franklin Starlight's alcoholic and estranged father asks him to accompany him into the woods, where he intends to die and be buried upright, like his warrior ancestors.

sit_walk Jun 13, 2018

This is a riveting read from one of Canada's best writers (now sadly passed).

s
sgcf
May 14, 2018

This story of a First Nations teen-ager reconnecting with his estranged, alcoholic father felt authentic. It moves slowly, artfully, to revelation over the course of the entire novel. There’s a sense of spiritual connection with nature and “Indian” humanity. Wagamese’s theme of forgiveness and courage is lyrically told with rich imagery as he opens up indigenous ways to us. Beautiful. This is the third book of his I’ve read …what a loss he is to the writing world.

n
nuke_diver
Apr 12, 2018

I wanted to read Indian Horse but it is not available in the local library. So I decided to read this instead. While the topic is rather depressing the book is not. Wagamese's writing is excellent and descriptive. I hope I can read Indian Horse soon as it is considered by some to be a better read.

c
csrestall
Dec 06, 2017

I really enjoyed this novel. I read it for the Amnesty International Canada book club. It held my interest from the beginning to the end. It is about a boy who is coming to terms with his own past and his fathers history and life story, while taking his father on a journey to die. It deals with family issues, abuse, war, and alcoholism. Very worth while read.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Oct 19, 2017

Medicine Walk follows the journey of a half-indigenous boy who, against the backdrop of Canadian wilderness, discovers the history on which his life is built on. As 16-year-old Frank sets out to fulfill his dying father’s last wish, he comes face to face with his father’s harrowing past. He learns about the experiences that drowned his father in alcohol, and consequently, led him down the path of self-destruction. Throughout the story, the clarity and depth of descriptions absorb the reader’s attention in all ways. Along with bringing to life the natural beauty of rural Canada, Wagamese has spun a heart touching tale that illustrates anguish, anger and regret through a father-son relationship. Medicine Walk is unique, entertaining, and definitely worth reading. 5/5 Stars
- @VirtueofReading of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

t
thebritlass
Sep 21, 2017

Incredible prose and thought-provoking material.

m
mclarjh
Aug 17, 2017

Dull prose. Cliched characters. Melodramatic storytelling. Reads more like a Young Adult book, but too long and boring.

g
gingerbeer
Jun 08, 2017

Excellent book; insightful and heart wrenching!

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Notices

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c
csrestall
Dec 06, 2017

Other: alcoholism

c
csrestall
Dec 06, 2017

Sexual Content: sexual scenes

c
csrestall
Dec 06, 2017

Violence: Domestic abuse and war

c
csrestall
Dec 06, 2017

Coarse Language: minor swears

s
shayshortt
Sep 16, 2015

Sexual Content: Prostitution

s
shayshortt
Sep 16, 2015

Violence: Domestic abuse War

s
shayshortt
Sep 16, 2015

Coarse Language: Occasional swearing.

s
shayshortt
Sep 16, 2015

Other: Substance abuse

Quotes

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t
thebritlass
Sep 21, 2017

...we're a Great Mystery. Everything. Said the things they done, those old-time Indians, was all about learnin' to live with that mystery. Not solving it, not comin' to grips with it, not even tryin' to guess it out. Just bein' with it. I guess I wish I'd learned the secret to doing that.

s
shayshortt
Sep 16, 2015

"All’s I’m tryin’ to say is that we never had the time for learnin’ about how to get by out here. None of us did. White man things was what we needed to learn if we was gonna eat regular. Indian stuff just kinda got left behind on accounta we were busy gettin’ by in that world.”

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c
csrestall
Dec 06, 2017

csrestall thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Summary

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c
csrestall
Dec 06, 2017

The kid also known as Frank has always lived with the Old Man, and does not know much about where he comes from or his own story. His father (not the Old Man) calls on him to help him make a journey through the wilderness to a specific place where he would like to die. He is suffering from a failing liver due to alcoholism. Throughout the course of the journey Frank learns his history through the stories of his father, and also narrates some of his own childhood experiences. His father tells of his time as a child, the abuse of his mother, the death of his father (Frank's grandfather), the Vietnam war, meeting Frank's mother, and how she died. Frank tells of each time that he saw his father as a child and thier subsequent shattered relationship. He is able to forgive his father before he dies, and buries him before returning home.

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