There are certain plots that possess inherent drama, and the saving of a lost child is one of them. In The Buffalo Soldier, Chris Bohjalian--who showed such flair for drama in the bestselling Oprah's Book Club® pick Midwives--gives us the story of 10-year-old Alfred, an African American foster child who is taken in by Terry and Laura Sheldon, a white couple whose twin daughters have drowned. Another child is also about to come on the scene: Terry has an affair, and the young woman becomes pregnant. Bohjalian takes his sweet time exploring these relationships, but he also writes scenes with the same tautness that made Midwives a page-turner. The result is a novel that's both readable and exhaustively fleshed out. As Alfred settles into the Sheldons' lives, we actually come to believe in the unlikely little family the three of them forge. Bohjalian narrates his story from the perspective of each of his principal characters, a method that can be tiresome, but here is made fresh by the author's clear vision: these people, you feel, are real to him. --Claire Dederer
With his trademark emotional heft and storytelling skill, bestselling author Chris Bohjalian presents this resonant novel about the formation of an unconventional family–the ties that bind it, and the strains that pull it apart. Two years after their twin daughters died in a flash flood, Terry and Laura Sheldon, a Vermont state trooper and his wife, take in a foster child. His name is Alfred; he is ten years old and African American. And he has passed through so many indifferent families that he can’t believe that his new one will last.
In the ensuing months Terry and Laura will struggle to emerge from their shell of grief only to face an unexpected threat to their marriage; Terry’s involvement with another woman. Meanwhile, Alfred cautiously enters the family circle, and befriends an elderly neighbor who inspires him with the story of the buffalo soldiers, the black cavalrymen of the old West. Out of the entwining and unfolding of their lives, The Buffalo Soldier creates a suspenseful, moving portrait of a family, infused by Bohjalian’s moral complexity and narrative assurance.
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