Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Book Review: The Buffalo Soldier
The Buffalo Soldier is the second book I've read by Chris Bohjalian (unless I read Midwives years ago, which I'm not really sure about). Skeletons at the Feast (my review here) was on my own Top 10 list for books I read in 2009, so I plan to read through all of Bohjalian's novels.
I completely was not expecting this novel to be what it was. For some reason I thought it was a historical novel about the army's famed Buffalo soldiers. But actually the African-American cavalry unit had very little to do with the novel, other than references and a low underlying theme.
The novel actually centers on Terry and Laura Sheldon and their foster boy, Alfred. Terry and Laura suffered the devastating loss of their twin daughters and are trying to make a new life with Alfred, who is the lone black child in a very white New England town. The story isn't about race so much, though, as about loneliness and redemption and making choices. My favorite characters for sure are the elderly neighbors who essentially save Alfred while Laura and Terry continue to fight their own demons. But all the characters are alive and complex.
This novel isn't nearly on par with Skeletons at the Feast, but it was extremely enjoyable, or rather intriguing, and well written. I'll be reading more Bohjalian.