Xavier Bird and Elijah Wiskeyjack have spent most of their young lives hunting and fishing in the bush around Moose Factory, Ontario. They have become near brothers, and their complementary skills and personalities make them a solid team. Xavier lives with his aunt Niska, who kidnapped him from the nuns at the residential school where his mother left him. They live deep in the bush on what the land has to offer. His friend Elijah spends the summer days with them until he turns sixteen and can leave school to live with Xavier and Niska. It is not long before Xavier and Elijah hear of the war across the ocean and enlist. While Elijah quickly adapts to the life of the war and finds himself at home in the glory, Xavier cannot find his place and thinks often of home.
Three Day Road opens in 1919 as Niska awaits Elijah’s arrival. She carries a heavy heart at the news of her nephew’s death and will look to Elijah for stories of his days in the war. Xavier travels back to Moose Factory with the same sense of lose. He has suffered much loss and no longer knows where his place in this world may be. He received a letter over a year before which he misinterpreted to mean that his aunt had passed away. The two are shocked and relieved at the sight of each other.
Over the ensuing days, while Niska and Xavier travel by canoe to their home in the bush, Xavier relives the horror of the years he has spent away, and Niska recalls the history of their family to Xavier. She tells him his story and the vision she sees of his future. Through their time together, they find healing and understanding, strengthening the bond of family they have carried through lifetimes.
Joseph Boyden does an amazing job of taking the reader on a canoe ride down a river in Ontario that spans the war in France, the history of their family, incredible struggles, and amazing connections. Three Day Road is full of mesmerizing description and heartfelt emotion. An incredible journey.