Wishing to find some more sports fiction to add to my reading list as well as the non-fiction books I am either provided or will find, I saw this one about a hockey player in northern Ontario and was intrigued. It was so much better than I expected. This book is also currently a movie on Netflix so that will be the next item on my to-watch list there, although I can't imagine the movie can be better than this book. Here is my review of "Indian Horse"
Title/Author: “Iron Horse” by Richard Wagamese
Rating: 5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
It isn't often that one can read a story that combines indigenous culture with ice hockey, but this tale of a northern Ontario indigenous boy who was taken from his family, sent to a Catholic "school" in which the children were more indentured servants than student and fell in love with hockey is one that should be read by everyone who enjoys the sport – if nothing else to illustrate struggles that indigenous people encounter.
Author Richard Wagamese penned a wonderful tale about Saul, aka "Indian Horse" and his evolution from a scared boy who was violently snatched from his grandmother to his development as a hockey player thanks to one priest who allowed him to start off working at the makeshift rink on the school ground. From there, Saul, through hard work and determination on his own, develops into a fine hockey player. He becomes far more skilled at the game than his classmates and a visitor to the school invites him to live with another family on the nearby reservation and play on their team that plays other teams of indigenous players. Throughout this time, Saul keeps not only getting better at hockey, but is also burdened by his loss of family and grateful to the priest that introduced him to hockey. He gets so good that he attracts the attention of a Toronto Maple Leafs scout, who signs him to a contract to play for their Junior team as Saul is still not an adult.
The story from here will take a different turn than one may expect and while this review will not reveal any more of the story, it is one that will bring out many emotions in the reader. The writing about hockey, especially Saul's description of his play on the ice, is wonderful and any hockey reader will enjoy these passages. Saul's description of what his family and his people are enduring is something everyone should read and understand. If only for these two reasons, that is enough to recommend this book for many readers.