Three Day Road | Joseph Boyden

The cover of Boyden's Three Day RoadThree Day Road lands on the emotional landscape of the reader like the First World War munitions that comprise the setting of the novel. Elijah and Xavier, great First Nation hunters, join the Canadian forces and become skilled snipers on the Great War’s killing fields. This narrative is paralleled by the stories Auntie’s childhood as she paddles only one of the soldiers home.

The story is complex and beautiful—compelling and terrifying. It repays the attentive reader. By the time I was two thirds of the way through the book, during one of Auntie’s stories, I realized how the lives of Elijah and Xavier would end. This only added to the tension of the novel since I desperately hoped to be wrong.

I’ve read Boyden’s work backwards. I started with Orenda, his latest work, then went back to Born With a Tooth and this, his first novel. While Orenda is a more brutal novel, I found that Three Day Road packed a greater emotional punch.

Elijah and Xavier will live in your thoughts for weeks after their story is safely back on the bookshelf.

—Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road (Toronto, ON: Penguin Canada, 2005).

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