Summary and book reviews of The Wind Is Not a River by Brian Payton

The Wind Is Not a River

by Brian Payton

The Wind Is Not a River by Brian Payton X
The Wind Is Not a River by Brian Payton
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2014, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2014, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

The Wind Is Not a River is Brian Payton's gripping tale of survival and an epic love story in which a husband and wife - separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil - fight to reunite in Alaska's starkly beautiful Aleutian Islands.

Following the death of his younger brother in Europe, journalist John Easley is determined to find meaning in his loss. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Helen, he heads north to investigate the Japanese invasion of Alaska's Aleutian Islands, a story censored by the U.S. government. 

While John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run, his plane is shot down over the island of Attu. He survives only to find himself exposed to a harsh and unforgiving wilderness, known as "the birthplace of winds." There, John must battle the elements, starvation, and his own remorse while evading discovery by the Japanese.

Alone at home, Helen struggles with the burden of her husband's disappearance. Caught in extraordinary circumstances, in this new world of the missing, she is forced to reimagine who she is - and what she is capable of doing. Somehow, she must find John and bring him home, a quest that takes her into the farthest reaches of the war, beyond the safety of everything she knows.

April 1, 1943

When John Easley opens his eyes to the midday sky his life does not pass before him. He sees instead a seamless sheet of sky gone gray from far too many washings. He blinks twice, then focuses on the tiny black specks drifting across the clouds. They pass through his field of vision wherever he turns to look. Last winter, the doctor pronounced them floaters. Said that by Easley's age, thirty-eight, plenty of people had them. Little bits of the eyeball's interior lining had come free and were swimming inside the jelly. What Easley actually sees are not the specks themselves, but the shadows they cast as they pass over his retina. To avoid their distraction, the doctor advised him to refrain from staring at a blank page, the sky, or snow. These are his first conscious thoughts on the island of Attu.

He sits up straight. When he does, it feels as if his head has a momentum all its own, as if it wants to continue its upward trajectory. A dull pain jabs his ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Wind Is Not a River will likely spark readers' interest in a remote part of the world and in a little-known chapter of World War II history even as it tells a memorable story about the power of love and the will to survive.   (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Full Review (546 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Payton has delivered a richly detailed, vividly resonant chronicle of war's effect on ordinary people's lives.

Kirkus Reviews
Through a narrative strategy that alternates chapters between John's plight and Helen's search, Payton effectively gives the reader two visions - and two versions - of a neglected aspect of World War II.

Library Journal
Starred Review. As a nearly lifelong inhabitant of Alaska and having spent three years on Adak in the Aleutians, this reviewer was particularly gratified by the accuracy of the author's portrayal of the land and people of the 'birthplace of the winds.' Bravo!

Author Blurb Ron Rash, bestselling author of Serena and Nothing Gold Can Stay
What a great-hearted, beautifully written, and utterly riveting novel. It has a power that brings to mind the old Greek stories of war, love, and journey.

Author Blurb Wayne Grady, author of Emancipation Day
Not since Cold Mountain have I read such a brilliantly sustained metaphor for our collective guilt and grief, nor such a stirring testament to the redemptive power of love. We need this novel now.

Author Blurb David Vann, author of Legend of a Suicide and Caribou Island
Beautifully written, lyrical and elegiac, The Wind Is Not A River is a novel you must read…John Easley's struggle to survive and his wife Helen's struggle to find him form the most triumphant and heartbreaking love story I've read in years.

Reader Reviews

BobbieC

War Comes to Alaska
Who know that WWII was so close to mainland USA? This fictional account of the secretive battle to keep the Japanese from escalating the front to the USA is told from the perspective of a journalist caught behind enemy lines and his wife who ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Battle of the Aleutian Islands

In The Wind Is Not A River, the protagonist, journalist John Easley, finds himself on the Aleutian island of Attu in April 1943, when the Battle of the Aleutian Islands is taking place.

We've all heard about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the precipitating event that led the United States to fight in World War II. But perhaps we might not be as familiar with the Battle of the Aleutian Islands that took place from June 1942 to August 1943 – the only WWII campaign to be fought on U.S. soil. Possibly due to an embargo on information from the Alaskan front, it was overshadowed by the more dramatic war stories from Europe and the South Pacific. This might explain why the long struggle to reclaim two American ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Wind Is Not a River, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Winter Soldier
    The Winter Soldier
    by Daniel Mason
    Imagine the thousands of confounding cases doctors face routinely for which diagnoses are hard to ...
  • Book Jacket: Brother
    Brother
    by David Chariandy
    Brother is the brief, moving account of how a single, tragic moment in time can alter the course of ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Islamic Enlightenment
    by Christopher de Bellaigue
    In this comprehensive and well-researched history, de Bellaigue examines the evolution of Islamic ...
  • Book Jacket: The Spy of Venice
    The Spy of Venice
    by Benet Brandreth
    Benet Brandreth's delightfully diverting historical thriller brings the Bard to vibrant life. ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Removes by Tatjana Soli

A powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    French Exit
    by Patrick deWitt

    A brilliant and darkly comic novel from bestselling author Patrick deWitt.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House. On sale Oct 9.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T Turn T S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.