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Jimmy Bluefeather (Paperback)
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Heacox is already reaping superlative reviews for his first novel with enthusiastic comparisons to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Milagro Beanfield War. Set in Crystal Bay, southeast Alaska, this is a coming of age story for both Keb Wisting, an aged grandfather and the last canoe maker in the village, and his grandson James whose dreams of a basketball scholarship are ruined in a careless logging accident. Feuds and rivalries abound. There is an investigation of the boys responsible for James’ injuries, Keb’s daughters represent opposing positions on the native Tlingit lands, the US government, even a rascally old dog has a place in the fabric of this tale. All threads culminate in a great chase - Keb and James in the last canoe they made, residents of Crystal Bay in all manners of boats and the Crystal Bay Natural Marine Reserve. Beautifully written, the characters and scenery pop and the story is engaging on many levels. This novel is supremely deserving of the many kudos it has received.
"Part quest, part rebirth, Heacox's debut novel spins a story of Alaska's Tlingit people and the land, an old man dying, and a young man learning to live." Kirkus Reviews (Starred). Winner: National Outdoor Book Award
Old Keb Wisting is somewhere around ninety-five years old (he lost count awhile ago) and in constant pain and thinks he wants to die. He also thinks he thinks too much. Part Norwegian and part Tlingit Native ("with some Filipino and Portuguese thrown in"), he's the last living canoe carver in the village of Jinkaat, in Southeast Alaska.
When his grandson, James, a promising basketball player, ruins his leg in a logging accident and tells his grandpa that he has nothing left to live for, Old Keb comes alive and finishes his last canoe, with help from his grandson. Together (with a few friends and a crazy but likeable dog named Steve) they embark on a great canoe journey. Suddenly all of Old Keb's senses come into play, so clever and wise in how he reads the currents, tides, and storms. Nobody can find him. He and the others paddle deep into wild Alaska, but mostly into the human heart, in a story of adventure, love, and reconciliation. With its rogue's gallery of colorful, endearing, small-town characters, this book stands as a wonderful blend of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and John Nichols's The Milagro Beanfield War, with dashes of John Steinbeck thrown in.
About the Author
Kim Heacox is the award-winning author of several books including the acclaimed John Muir and the Ice that Started a Fire and the novel Caribou Crossing. His feature articles have appeared in Audubon, Travel & Leisure, Wilderness, Islands, Orion, and National Geographic Traveler. His editorials, written for the Los Angeles Times, have appeared in many major newspapers across the United States. When not playing the guitar, doing simple carpentry, or writing another novel, he's sea kayaking with his wife, Melanie, or watching a winter wren on the woodpile.