The Redemption of Oscar Wolf

The Redemption of Oscar Wolf

Book - 2013
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A young First Nations man sets out from his Muskoka home in a quest for redemption after a terrible fire.

In the early 1930s, Oscar Wolf, a 13-year-old Native from the Chippewas of Rama Indian Reserve, sets fire to the business section of his village north of Toronto in a fit of misguided rage against white society, inadvertently killing his grandfather and a young maid. Tortured by guilt and fearful of divine retribution, Oscar sets out on a lifetime quest for redemption.

His journey takes him to California where he works as a fruit picker and prizefighter during the Great Depression, to the Second World War where he becomes a decorated soldier, to university where he excels as a student and athlete, and to the diplomatic service in the postwar era where he causes a stir at the United Nations in New York and in Colombia and Australia.

Beset by an all-too-human knack for making doubtful choices, Oscar discovers that peace of mind is indeed hard to find in this saga of mid-20th-century aboriginal life in Canada and abroad that will appeal to readers of all backgrounds and ages.

Publisher: Toronto : Dundurn, c2013
ISBN: 9781459709829
Branch Call Number: BAR
Characteristics: 266 p. ;,23 cm


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Jun 22, 2017

Dull prose, contrived story, wooden characters, and hectoring tone.

Apr 28, 2016

Plot is 3 star and characters are 4 star. Interesting view into the lives of Canadian Indians, but some of the plot lines are less than believable and there are few surprises.

Aug 13, 2014

The ending is more like getting revenge rather than redemption. Despite Bartleman's denials, this reads like a roman à clef. It's still a fun read.

Jun 25, 2014

I would have liked more information on native culture and beliefs. I couldn't bring myself to like the main character and don't think he deserved redemption.

Jun 24, 2014

An excellent selection for Hamilton Reads. Follows a young aboriginal boy who in anger commits an act that results in death and destruction, although for awhile his life improves. He encounters racism, but despite that gets educated and becomes a foreign diplomat for Canada. His experiences in Colombia, Australia and South Africa all have a racial tinge. James Bartleman is interviewed and he explains why fiction allow him to express his feelings better than a straight narrative. He also tells us which parts of the novel are true to his life and which parts are made up to make a more interesting story. Well done.

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