Winner of the Oregon Book Awards H.L. Davis Prize for Fiction
Synopses & Reviews
is a story of love in the wake of violence, and trust even in the face of fear. Clark Woods is a man trying his best to raise Wade, his adopted Native American son, born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Stricken with a disease that cripples both the mind and spirit, Wade has had anything but an easy life. He spent the first six years of his life with his natural mother in Alaska, neglected and abused, before starting a new life with his foster father in Massachusetts.
One day, when Wade is only nine years old, the young girl who lives next door is found dead in a pond where Wade had been playing that afternoon, making him the prime suspect. Clark, who is fiercely devoted to the boy, must face the possibility that his son's violent tendencies and inability to know right from wrong may have had the most drastic of consequences. Clark must wrestle with his own doubt, guilt, and the burdening sense of responsibility that only seems to grow heavier with each day.
With unfaltering poignancy and feeling that comes from his own experience raising a Native American boy with fetal alcohol syndrome, Lesley weaves a spellbinding tale of a father's loyalty to his son, and what happens when that loyalty is pushed to the limits. Split between the austere Tlingit Alaskan village nearly destroyed by the U.S. Navy a century ago and Amherst, Massachusetts where Clark is a University professor, Storm Riders uses the idea of preserving a culture as a parallel to Clark's own struggle to maintain his bond with his son.
"[A] mystically uplifting take on the eternal distances separating fathers and sons, as well as a larger metaphor for the estrangement that both isolates and protects Indian culture from mainstream America." Kirkus Reviews
"[Readers will find] a form of love as profound as it is forlorn in this intense story about loyalty and letting go." Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
"A powerful testimony to decency and compassion, and the blindness of a good man." The Bloomsbury Review
"A powerful tale with a strong emotional core." Chicago Tribune
"Quite a book." The Washington Post Book World
"Heartbreaking...poignant." The Seattle Times
"Lesley skillfully weaves a powerful novel of a father and son in the Northwest, where the harsh reality of present day circumstances mixes with a rich tribal past." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"A wrenching and universal story of a family's heartache." The Oregonian
"This is an emotional look a the relationship between fathers and sons and the complexities of trying to raise a responsible child. Lesley creates chapters that often read like well-crafted short stories, complete in themselves." Library Journal
"Prose as clear as the morning air." The Boston Globe
examines the conflicted love of a single father struggling to raise his adopted Native American son, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. When a small girl mysteriously drowns near a student-housing complex, the boy is implicated and the father wrestles with his own doubt, guilt, and responsibility.
Bringing to life the austere beauty of the Tlingit Alaskan village of the boy's family, as well as the highly educated pockets of the East Coast, Lesley vividly portrays a father and a son struggling to come to terms with each other and above all, with the truth. This novel, as the Chicago Tribune noted, is "a powerful tale with a strong emotional core."
Winner of the Oregon Book Awards H.L. Davis Prize for Fiction
Storm Riders examines the conflicted love of a single father struggling to raise his adopted Native American son, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. When a small girl mysteriously drowns near a student-housing complex, the boy is implicated and the father wrestles with his own doubt, guilt, and responsibility.
Bringing to life the austere beauty of the Tlingit Alaskan village of the boy's family, as well as the highly educated pockets of the East Coast, Lesley vividly portrays a father and a son struggling to come to terms with each other and above all, with the truth. This novel, as The Chicago Tribune noted, is "a powerful tale with a strong emotional core."
About the Author
is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest. He has twice received the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award, for Winterkill
and for The Sky Fisherman.
He is also the author of River Song
. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Reading Group Guide
- Craig Lesley once said "When you take away a people's culture, you take away their lives." Is this statement demonstrated in Storm Riders? Do you think it pertains to Wade? To Payette?
- What is Clark's relationship to his parents? How does his relations with them affect his own parenting ideas? Do Clark's ideas of fatherhood change as he experiences life with Wade? How?
- "The problem of damaged children is, I believe, a ticking time-bomb in our society." Craig Lesley states. Is Wade a "ticking timebomb"? How does society react to Wade? What social services help or fail Wade and Clark? Is there a place for Wade in any of the communities described in Storm Riders?
- How does the novel portray Native American traditions and beliefs? How does the Tlingit ceremony honoring the 1883 massacre of their village reflect these traditions?
- Storm Riders is based on the author's own experiences as a foster parent to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. "The thing I want people to realize most as they read this book," Lesley said "is the challenges and rewards of working with a damaged child." What were some the rewards Clark found with Wade?
- How does the narrator's position add to the novel? How do you think the mood of the book would have differed if the narration had been in the third person instead of the first person?
- How does Clark come to realize the problems his son will face in his life? How does he come to grips with his son's illness? How does day to day life with Wade change his expectations for his son?
- One reviewer has said that "Literature is full of novels about children, but novels where the point of view is distinctly parental-those are few and far between. The day-to-day truth of parenting is largely composed of drudgery and small, hiccuping epiphanies that don't add up to anything resembling the scale of literature" (LA Weekly). How does Craig Lesley's novel move toward remedying the absence of dramatic parental fiction?
- In the beginning of the novel, Clark refuses V to give Wade up. Why does he later change his mind', How does his relationship with Wade change because of this decision? How does Clark's view of himself change because of this decision?