Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

Medicine Walk

Rating: 4/5

What It’s About:

Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon. He’s sixteen years old and has had the most fleeting of relationships with the man. The rare moments they’ve shared haunt and trouble Frank, but he answers the call, a son’s duty to a father. He finds Eldon decimated after years of drinking, dying of liver failure in a small town flophouse. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains, so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner.     

What ensues is a journey through the rugged and beautiful backcountry, and a journey into the past, as the two men push forward to Eldon’s end. From a poverty-stricken childhood, to the Korean War, and later the derelict houses of mill towns, Eldon relates both the desolate moments of his life and a time of redemption and love and in doing so offers Frank a history he has never known, the father he has never had, and a connection to himself he never expected.


The Review

Medicine Walk is the second book I’ve read by Richard Wagamese. The first book I read by him, Indian Horse, was amazing and so emotional. Medicine Walk was another book to remember. I love Wagamese’s poignant and heartfelt writing. While this is a character driven story, the setting also evoked quiet beauty filled with healing power. There are many topics covered in this book that were impactful. The one thing that I struggled with was the pacing. My one small criticism is that the storyline moves at a languid pace and I was starting to feel impatient towards the end. But I think that was just a personal thing. Medicine Walk just isn’t meant to be a book that you rush through. There is so much to unpack. Here are some of the topics or elements that were interesting.

  • death of a parent/spouse
  • Korean War & PTSD
  • addiction & alcoholism
  • domestic abuse
  • feelings of grief, fear, remorse
  • generational trauma

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear what you thought.

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