Graphic Arts Books 2015, 251 pages
Nobody really knows how old Old Keb, a half-Tlingit, half-Norwegian elder, is, but he has outlived his wife, his friends and his three sons and now he tired - of a lot of things - and thinks it may be time to die. When his grandson James is injured in a logging accident, losing both his chance to play in the NBA and his will to live, old Keb decides it is time to build one last canoe.
This twenty-five foot red cedar log in the carving shed soon becomes somewhat of a community project and when it is finished, Old Keb and James leave on a journey towards Crystal Bay, where the Jinkaat Tlingit came from long ago. A last journey for Keb and a reason to believe in something for James.
But some National Marine Reserve Service members have their own agenda and reasons for wanting to prevent Keb from reaching Crystal Bay, so they send out ‘rescuers’ to bring the old man back “for his own safety”, which doesn’t turn out to be such an easy task after all… He may be old, but a man, whose toe was once bitten off by a bear while he was napping, and who can read nature well, isn’t so easy misled by a few authorities in uniform.
I absolutely loved this book and am having a hard time describing what exactly its magic is, so I will quote a sentence from the novel itself:
It was something simple yet profound, a million little acts of affirmation, an awakening, an endless dance of creation. (page 196)
So many sentences, paragraphs and descriptions I would like to copy out here, but then I may as well start with the first sentence and continue until the last, and I doubt very much that the author would appreciate that... ;-) There is a dry sense of humor, especially when old Keb doesn’t understand something, and brilliant descriptions that kept me smiling and wanting to highlight half the book. Oh, and fabulous characters you just can’t get enough of. And, did I mention that it’s set in Alaska…? J Definitely one of my favorite books this year (yes, I know it’s only March…).