Three Day Road

Three Day Road

eBook - 2008
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It is 1919, and Niska, the last Oji-Cree woman to live off the land, has received word that one of the two boys she saw off to the Great War has returned. Xavier Bird, her sole living relation, is gravely wounded and addicted to morphine. As Niska slowly paddles her canoe on the three-day journey to bring Xavier home, travelling through the stark but stunning landscape of Northern Ontario, their respective stories emerge--stories of Niska's life among her kin and of Xavier's horrifying experiences in the killing fields of Ypres and the Somme.
Publisher: Toronto : Penguin Canada, 2008
ISBN: 9780143175643
Characteristics: 1 online resource (398 pages)


From Library Staff

This riveting tale is about two Cree natives who fight for Canada during World War I. One dies in Europe, while the other, clinging to his heritage and life, returns to his home in Northern Ontario, where he is nurtured and revived by his aunt’s quiet storytelling.

Reason: "sexually explicit"

Cree Indian Xavier and his friend Elijah enlist in World War 1 and fight the good fight to experience addiction, marginalization and murder. The pair are expert snipers and the storytelling between worlds is remarkable. A novel that has no easy answers.

This bestselling literary novel follows the lives of two young Cree men who join the First World War and become snipers, but whose paths diverge greatly along the way.

Set in Canada and Europe during World War I, this novel follows two Cree boys who enlist in the army as sharpshooters.

From the critics

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Jul 28, 2020

As you can figure out from the title of the novel, this is a three-day road journey of Niska and Xavier Bird as they reminisce on their previous experiences in life. Three day road is a great novel to read when you want to learn more about World War 1. This novel displays many messages that encircle the themes of love, friendship, family and more. I definitely recommend this novel as it can develop your knowledge of the peril the soldiers were expose to and it shows the meaning of true love displayed by the characters towards each other. 3.5 out of 5
@Ashleyyy of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

My favourite part of this book was the historical values tied in. Set at the time of World War One, there was, of course, times of difficulty, pain, and despair – but this all led the healing of individual characters to be that much more meaningful. I enjoyed how each character developed and transformed throughout the novel, and how I was able to feel a connection between their stories. One thing that I didn’t like was how at times I felt that it was a bit slow-moving, and I was waiting for the conclusion to come! However, I would still recommend this book to other readers, especially those who are interested in history, as the storyline was well-developed, emotional, and overall satisfying.
@PenelopeScriptor of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Sep 13, 2019

WWI; returning Canadian indigenous soldier -- his addiction to morphine & his redemptive trip home with his aunt. Beautiful -- the trench warfare descriptions are horrific!

Jan 18, 2019

You won't be able to pull away. Gut wrenching and beautifully written.

niigaanibinesi Aug 09, 2018

It would have been a great story if it was written by an Indigenous person and not a white person.

Jul 24, 2018

The book three-day road by Joseph Boyden was a beautiful story about the lives of three Aboriginal people during the first world war. I thought that it was very informative and well written because it really gave you an opportunity to see what it was like to be an aboriginal during that time as there were many challenges that the characters faced, such as racism and the demise of their cultural identity. I would recommend this book to anyone aged 14 and up because there was some suggestive content in the book. I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
- @MissB148 of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Aug 05, 2017

recommended to me by a friend - i was not disappointed. reviews for this all over the internet so you don't need my synopsis - normally i am not a big fan of fiction but this one felt real. ww1 was long time ago but written in such a way that all feels very current. has some interesting 'residential schools' content that was illuminating (brought home the issue to me).

Jul 09, 2017

Awful but vivid & gripping. Two Cree Indians part of the Canadian military force in the first world war.

Jul 08, 2017

Absolutely brilliant! Tension throughout, very vivid imagery, brought an horrific experience to life, believable characters-fantastic read about trench warfare.

Jul 05, 2017

Disappointing. Too long. Paper thin characters. Stilted prose.

Jun 10, 2016

Three Day Road a memorable story that will haunt, inspire and entertain.

Niska is a traditional medicine woman, a mix of Cree and Ojibway. She's been taught divining and traditional medicine by her mother and father, has seizures and sees visions. She's also the destroyer of windigo, an evil presence that sometimes takes possession of humans, a role she has inherited through the generations.

Niska is a "bush Indian", living alone in the wilderness of northern Ontario. She is coming by canoe to a small town to meet Xavier, her nephew and last remaining relative. She raised him in the traditional ways until WW I broke out and he and his friend Elijah enlisted in the Canadian Army and were sent to France.

Xavier and Elijah have used their hunting skills to become an outstanding snipers. In France they hunted men instead of game. It changed them.

Xavier arrives home a deeply troubled young man, his leg has been amputated at the knee, he's addicted to the painkiller morphine.

Niska meets him and so begins their journey back into the wilderness, back to sanity, back to healing.

Author Joseph Boyden uses these two main characters to tell the story. Xavier floats on a morphine high and remembers the trenches, the bombardments, the death of comrades, the calculated killing of the enemy one by one as a sniper.

In an effort to draw him out of his personal hell Niska talks to him of her early life, of her parents, of how she came to raise him, of the windigo.

Three Day Road is a moving story of love and sacrifice, of friendship and loyalty, of the horror of war and the pointlessness of it.

Immaculately researched, powerfully written, this is a story that will haunt, inspire, entertain and stay with you.

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Add Notices
Jan 18, 2017

Sexual Content: There are a couple of chapters that contain brief, yet explicit sexual dialogue and behavior. Sexual innuendos are also used.

Jan 18, 2017

Violence: Very graphic depictions of war violence; limbs blown off, intense gore, realistic injuries, etc.

Jan 18, 2017

Coarse Language: Very offensive language is sprinkled throughout the novel.

nadian Jan 12, 2010

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.

nadian Jan 12, 2010

Violence: Graphic descriptions of war violence and related injuries.

nadian Jan 12, 2010

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

Mar 29, 2008

Violence: This title contains Violence.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Jan 18, 2017

LukeTabidze thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Feb 13, 2014

ConanTheLibrarian thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

nadian Jan 12, 2010

nadian thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Summary

Two Cree friends, Xavier and Elijah, leave northern Canada to end up in the horrific trenches of World War I. After the war, Xavier's elderly aunt Niska takes her wounded nephew back home to the bush in a canoe. Their trip is the three-day road of the title, which also refers to the journey taken after death.

EPLPicks_Teen Mar 24, 2010

Two Cree friends, Xavier and Elijah, leave northern Canada to end up in the horrific trenches of World War I. After the war, Xavier's elderly aunt Niska takes her wounded nephew back home to the bush in a canoe. Their trip is the three-day road of the title, which also refers to the journey taken after death.

LMOH Aug 26, 2009

This is the story of a damaged WW1 vet from Northern Ontario, and his aunt. The book alternates in the telling of their individual stories. The aunt hopes to heal her nephew by talking, and possibly Xavier, the nephew, will help his aunt with the telling of his.


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