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The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian

>> Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Published: 2002
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 420
TBR Challenge #12, Unread Authors #5

Two years ago Laura and Terry Sheldon’s twin 9 year old daughters died in a flash flood. Now they are foster parents to a 10 year old African-American boy named Alfred. Terry and Laura are still dealing with their grief and guilt over the loss of their daughters. Alfred is a child of the system who has lived in too many households in his young life. He is a quiet loner who has never really felt like he belongs anywhere. Paul Hebert, the retired professor who lives next door to the Sheldon’s takes an interest in Alfred and they find a common interest in the story of The Buffalo Soldiers Cavalry unit.

This book is told in several different voices – Laura, Terry, Alfred, the neighbors and also the woman whose involvement with Terry threatens what remains of the Sheldon’s marriage. It’s not just about the foster care system, nor is it about a couple dealing with their grief, guilt and marital tensions. It is about each of the characters and their fears, doubts and needs in terms of what family means to them.

There is sadness in the loss of the Sheldon girls and the impact that has on their parents as well as people who knew them and even Alfred, who never met them. There is joy in the relationship between Alfred and Paul Hebert. There is heartache in many of the characters as their relationships are tested.

. . . and every minute he felt like he was walking on glass. You moved slow in this house, as if everything – and that included the people – was just about to break.
I thought this was a very good book. I found it to be touching in many places and thought provoking for many reasons.


Literary Feline 12/05/2007 9:46 PM  

I picked up a copy of this book earlier this year and hope to get to it one of these days. I really like Chris Bohjalian's writing. I am so glad you enjoyed this one! Great review!

Wendy 12/06/2007 6:56 AM  

I read this several years ago and really enjoyed it too. Have you read other books by Bohjalian?

SuziQoregon 12/06/2007 8:47 AM  

Literary Feline: Some of these characters will definitely stick with me for a while - hope you enjoy it when you get to read it.

Wendy: No, I haven't. This is my first of his books.

Lynne 12/06/2007 9:46 AM  

I've read a couple of his other books (Midwives, Law of Similars) and liked them, so I'm going to add this one to my wish list.

jenclair 12/06/2007 4:05 PM  

I wasn't familiar with this author, but it sounds as if he has made an impression on several readers. Your review makes me want to check out the author and this particular book. Thanks!

alisonwonderland 12/06/2007 5:26 PM  

i left a comment on the cross-posting of this review on the Unread Authors blog - but i just wanted to say again that i hope you'll read more of this author, one of my favorites.

SuziQoregon 12/06/2007 8:10 PM  

Lynne: Thanks for the recommendations :-)

Jenclair: I was hesitant because I've heard mixed reviews of his books, but I thought this one was good.

Alison: thanks - I don't check for comments on the Unread Authors posts as often. Glad to hear recommendations for more of his books.

Les 12/10/2007 3:26 AM  

I've enjoyed everything I've read by Bohjalian and this one sounds like another winner. It sounds like the author did a nice job with the alternating voices. You've definitely piqued my interest. Great review!

SuziQoregon 12/10/2007 7:47 AM  

Les: This was my first by him and I really liked it. I keep hearing good things about his other books, so will probably check some of them out.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

I do moderate comments on posts older than 14 days in order to control spam. I will approve your legitimate comments as soon as I can.

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