Book Review: Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese


I am at a loss for words. This was incredible. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and thoughtful and so many other things. The plot is simple. Franklin, a teenage boy old beyond his years, is asked by his drunkard father to bring him into the wilderness to die. As they travel, his father tells him about his life, trying to pay off a little of what he owes to the son he was never there for. It’s a short book, under 250 pages, but it packs a punch. The writing is lyrical and distinctive. It’s both tragic and hopeful, and I honestly don’t know what to say to capture everything that is breathtaking about this story.

I loved the writing style. All the dialogue is written in the way the characters talk. It’s simple and straightforward, kind of stark, but very, very effective. I could hear their voices in my head, I could feel the slump of their shoulders, I could see the lines around their eyes. Not a single word is wasted. It was sparse and beautiful and once again, I need to reiterate that words are failing me .

Going into it, I also thought that this was going to be an Issues Book about The First Nations Experience, but, no. Okay, it kind of is in the way that the characters are First Nations and their lives are shaped by racism, but it’s a book about characters and family and broken people and guilt and it’s personal and moving and not trying to hammer you over the head with morals just trying to tell a story but stories teach us things and… It’s just amazing. Read it, read it, read it.

The characters are so vivid. From the moment you meet each one, you just immediately get a sense of who they are. I just want to reach into the book and give them hugs and cookies and make them pancake breakfasts. Frank is plain-talking, hard-working, teenager who reads like he’s some grizzled Clint Eastwood character in his forties and I just want to give him an awesome birthday for once and make sure he knows that he’s loved ( The old man loves you Frank! He’s just really gruff! And so does your father! Even if he’s shit at showing it!)

This book is so vivid and moving and beautiful and I need someone to turn it into an Oscar-winning movie, because it’s so good . Read it. I’ll just be over here, crying.


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