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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
The early 1900s was a difficult time for many, particularly those living in French Canadian rural communities. The sale of crops didn’t support the cost of planting them and many were starving, seeking work outside the community. Some even ventured as far as Yukon in search of gold, a means to escape, but also a dream to hold onto that there was some hope to recover. When Nazaire Poulin’s beloved wife died in childbirth and his children were taken to be raised by her family, he felt he had no choice but to leave. He convinced his brother Raoul to join him, to find their other two brothers already in Yukon, to put their own faith in the prospect of finding gold – enough to rebuild their lives and secure their family’s future.
Joyce Derenas’s novel, The Long Shot: A French Canadian Saga (A Klondike Gold Miner’s Life), is part history, part memoir, part creative nonfiction, but also pure adventure. Loosely based on the author’s ancestors and their fierce loyalties to the land and their people and the basic struggle for survival, the plot follows Nazaire’s journey as he ventures across the vast Canadian wilderness in search of a dream to secure a better life for himself and his children. The characters are well developed, the settings well described, and the plot is fast-paced and engaging. The reader feels like they are part of the story every step of the way. The author provides resources and notes at the end of the book to outline her research. This is a powerful story about human endurance in the face of despair and starvation.