Friday, January 25
Book Review: Indian Horse
Author: Richard Wagamese
Pages: EBook 191
Summary: Saul Indian Horse is dying. Tucked away in a hospice high above the clash and clang of a big city, he embarks on a marvellous journey of imagination back through the life he led as a northern Ojibway, with all its sorrows and joys. With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces through his fictional characters the decline of a culture and a cultural way. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he's sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement.
Indian Horse unfolds against the bleak loveliness of northern Ontario, all rock, marsh, bog and cedar. Wagamese writes with a spare beauty, penetrating the heart of a remarkable Ojibway man. Drawing on his great-grandfather's mystical gift of vision, Saul Indian Horse comes to recognize the influence of everyday magic on his own life. In this wise and moving novel, Richard Wagamese shares that gift of magic with readers as well.
My Rating: 6/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: Good quality of writing and a good story, but it's far from my favourite read of the year.
Saul was one of my main issues with the book. I couldn't connect with him at all and this book is one you need to be able to connect with the character to really appreciate it. I didn't feel an emotional connection and he didn't seem to stand out from anyone else who has faced the same hardships as him. He wasn't a very likable character and I found there were times he was a bit of a jerk, especially for those who were his friends. I think the author was trying to show how Saul was reacting psychological to the hardships he faced, but how the author choose to highlight this in Saul's personality didn't mesh well for me.
The descriptions of playing hockey and the hockey games got boring and repetitive very fast. It was the same thing over and over again and for such a short story, I wish there was more dedicated to Saul's internal struggles, like his addiction, than on descriptions of hockey. The part on the residential schools was okay, but I felt I was being told about the harsh realities, rather than shown. The author still managed to tell the readers about the horrific realities of the residential schools, but how it was executed affected me as a reader and it didn't have the effect that should have drawn me into the book or into Saul as a character.
The writing was well done. It was simple and to the point, but it was written quite well. I usually prefer the more lyrical and prose writing but this was done well enough, that I did enjoyed this type of writing style quite a lot. As the writing was part of what kept reading even through the slower parts for me.
Overall, it was a good book. I didn't dislike it, but I didn't love it either, there were a lot of little things here and there that just didn't come together for me as a reader.
Would I recommend it to read: I probably would. I didn't love it and I don't see the hype about it, but clearly something about the book is making people read it. It's good writing and it's a style of writing that appeals to a lot of readers - as is the story.
What to read next: Away, February, Age of Hope, Two Solitudes, Half Blood Blues
Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge, Read-a-latte challenge