Wenjack by Joseph Boyden

Title: Wenjack
Author: Joseph Boyden
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

WenjackStories about Indigenous Canadians have been my flavour of the month. I started out with Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire, and continued with The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew. My Canada Reads 2017 favourite was The Break by Katherena Vermette (sadly voted out on day one, but that’s another story for another time).

Wenjack tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year old boy who ran away from a residential school in 1966. Sadly, he didn’t know that his family lived hundreds of kilometres away when he set out to walk home along the train tracks, and he passed away after only a few days out there.

It’s the same story that Gord Downie made famous in Secret Path. I think that having read, no, experienced Secret Path, I found that Boyden’s account was a bit less interesting. It’s only a short book, and though it contains a lot more detail that Downie’s version, it just doesn’t have the emotional impact of the accompanying music and images.

I also found it a bit strange the way the story was told from the point of view of different animals in the forest. I didn’t really get it. There is probably some strong symbolism there that I didn’t quite get into, and I would have to look it up to find out what it meant.

It’s a quick read, so I would recommend it, even though it wasn’t one of my favourites.



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