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Flight of the Goose Paperback – February 12, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'This is an absolutely gripping tale actually a skillful braiding of tales.
I was moved by the characters and their fates as I have not been by a novel in a long time. The telling is masterful, the authenticity palpable, and the writing its pace, color, tone - is exquisite. A remarkable work...a joy, a big broad deep river of a book, a work of substance and great beauty of both vision and style.'

Source ~Alaska Press Women Contest judge Richard Hoffman, award-winning author of Half the House

'Lesley Thomas has done what would seem to be the impossible -- taken us deep inside the Inupiat world, in the voice and mind of an extraordinary young woman with still more extraordinary powers. I know of no book like this. 'Smilla's Sense of Snow' is a distant second. But two movies come to mind: 'Fast Runner', and 'Dersu Uzala'. If you love either of these movies, you'll be stunned by the depth and scope of this novel and the unique and unmistakably true voice of its heroine. And if you've never seen them, read 'Flight of the Goose' first!'

Source ~ Lesley Hazleton, award-winning journalist and author of Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen

'The story took my breath away...I wept my way through it, identifying
profoundly with both protagonists. The author has a fine grasp of the
complexity of human relations and culture in such a village...She also
writes beautifully. I was caught up from the first page...A remarkable book altogether'.

Source ~Jean Briggs, Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology.

"Unforgettable…Rings as true as bell metal. Thomas has my admiration." -- Eugene Garber, award-winning author of Metaphysical Tales

"Vibrant and genuine...A breathtaking landscape, poignant love story and unforgettable characters delivered with keen insight into human nature... --

Saint Andrew's Literary Journal

"A moving and extremely well-written story. (As well as) shamanic themes...the story addresses many other significant issues - among them, climate change, environmental crisis, and indigenous rights."

-- Shaman's Drum Journal

"Compelling...extraordinary...written with poignant and often amazing insight into Inuit culture. (Thomas) deals with the shamanism and sorcery in a very realistic way"...

--Sacred Hoop Magazine

"(An) exquisite example of storytelling...(with) critical aspects of Alaska Native life...will warm your heart and the hearts of those with whom you share the stories."

--First Alaskans: a statewide magazine of Native business and culture

"One of the best novels of Alaska I have read. With the author's unerring knowledge of anthropology and social and environmental issues, it could fit any Alaskan village."

--Dr. Dorothy Jean Ray, author of "A Legacy of Arctic Art"

"Puts a human face on the much debated issue of oil drilling in Alaska's wilderness. Complex, thought provoking and moving...Should be required reading for Congress."

--Heather Lende, "If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name"

From the Publisher

Flight of the Goose: A Story of the Far North is first place winner in the 2006 National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest
first place winner in the 2006 Alaska Press Women Communications Contest
first place winner in the 2005 Washington Press Association Communicator of Excellence Contest.

It is listed as a publication of note in Cultural Survival Quarterly and Shaman's Drum Journal.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Far Eastern Press; One edition (February 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967884217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967884219
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,275,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on July 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a very difficult book for me to review for several reasons. First and foremost is the fact that this is one of the best novels I have read over the past ten years or so. I truly want to do this one justice. Secondly, so much that I found in this book hit quite close to home. The nearer you are to a subject, I find, the more difficult it is to make an objective observation. Thirdly, you will find this is a very complicated and complex story, once you really take a close look at it. There is much more here than first meets the eye! That being said, I will also state at this time, that I have no intention of writing a blow by blow plot outline here. This has been done quite a number of times in this forum, by other reviewers and commentators, in a much grander fashion that I can produce. Please refer to those reviews if this is what you need. Most of them are quite good.

Briefly, the story takes place in Alaska in the early 1970s, during the Viet Nam War. It is a story of cultures running head-on against each other, economically, spiritually, ways of life, et al. It is a love story. It is a story of what we have done to, and are still doing to our environment. It is a story of conflict between war and peace, of duty and priorities. It is a story, for the most part, about people.

I have been a perpetual reader for well over 57 years now. In that time I have literally read thousands of books. Among those thousands, there are around eight or ten books that I have read repeatedly from time to time over the years. Some of these works include Tom Sawyer, The Grapes of Wrath, A Farewell to Arms and The Hobbit. The one thing that all these books have in common, is that they were written by master story tellers.
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Format: Paperback
In reflecting upon this novel it occurs to me that the author accomplished two nearly impossible feats. First, she managed to write very believably from both a female and male perspective. Secondly, she also managed to write believably and simultaneously from the perspective of a scientist and from that of a shaman (angutkoq.) Having a little experience myself in both worlds I can testify that none of it rang false. I was amazed at how believable and genuine it all felt.

While I know little of Inuit life (traditional or otherwise) it certainly felt like I was entering a real (and now passed) way of life. Considering how accurate and genuine the other elements are of which I do know something, I can only assume that this world is also. For instance, I had almost forgotten the rabid intensity of feelings surrounding the Vietnam War and the draft in the early 70's, but this book painfully reminded me. It rang true. So did the description of dysfunctional families and communities. I recognized these people myself from different but similar times and places.

While the more mundane elements of the characters' lives rang true, their inner lives rang truer still. The doubts of the young conscientious objector doctoral candidate took me back to my own youth. Yet, the trials of the young self-initiated angutkoq are what made the story for me. It is more than an interesting subtext out of some book. It felt like the real deal. This includes the initial doubts and fears. I especially appreciated the fact that nothing seemed to fall into place until she submitted to dismemberment by the spirits. And the description of love is also so messy and tenuous that it just has to be real.
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Format: Paperback
Lesley Thomas detailed this book so intricately that it seems real. I was most especially fascinated by the character of Kayuqtuq "Gretchen" Ugungoraseok, who is an orphan Native American adopted by the Inupiat, which means real people.

Kayuqtuq is a young woman living in a subsistence culture with roots that extend thousands of years into the past. Her observations of people, including naluagmiu (white man) Leif Trygvesen, are from the perspective of her culture. I was completely fascinated.

Though Kayuqtuq is already a young woman in this story, which is set in 1971, emotionally she is dealing with trauma from her childhood; perhaps she is also dealing with the continuous trauma of harsh life in the Arctic. The result is that Kayuqtuq's story is frequently more like a coming of age story than the story of a person who has already reached adulthood.

Part of Kayuqtuq's coping strategy is to become an angutkoq, or shaman. Regardless of whether Kayuqtuq has shaman powers or is incredibly intelligent, her insights and visions of events are remarkably accurate and frequently prescient. Unfortunately, her visions and insight fail to give her enough clarity to prevent tragedies.

This novel is primarily the story of Kayuqtuq "Gretchen" Ugungoraseok and Leif Trygvesen. The story is partially about the clash of cultures, but also about how Kayuqtuq and Leif react differently to the situations around them because of their cultures. Kayuqtuq and Leif's perspectives allow us to see how Inupiat culture views various situations in comparison to European culture.

Shading and complicating the cultural differences between Kayuqtuq and Leif is that each is multicultural in their own way. The Inupiat adopted Kayuqtuq, but she is Native American.
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