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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Readers who have come to expect mysterious circumstances of death and new age disciplines as standard elements in the novels of Chris Bohjalian will find neither in The Buffalo Soldier. But the Vermont landscape and plainspoken New Englanders that are another of the bestselling author's trademarks are unmistakably present in his eighth novel, a touching tale of love and loss, rejuvenation of life, and reclamation of hope after unthinkable tragedy.
Vermont state trooper Terry Sheldon and his wife, Laura, have lost their twin daughters to the indiscriminate currents of a flash flood. Two years after their daughters' death, having learned they are unable to conceive again, they seek to fill the void in their family by taking in a ten-year-old African-American foster child. Alfred, a sensitive yet withdrawn boy, has experienced more than his share of adversity, and he struggles to navigate the unfamiliar waters he encounters in this all-white, rural community within a family in crisis. Alfred's love and trust are not easily gained or given, and though Laura and the boy steadily develop an attachment, Terry fails to forge any real connection with the seemingly indifferent child. Frustrated by the widening chasm in his marriage, incapable of accepting Alfred into his heart, and unable to acceptably express his grief, Terry enters into a brief extramarital affair that results in an unplanned pregnancy. The potential dissolution of Terry and Laura's marriage threatens to plunge Alfred back into the maelstrom of institutional care. All could be lost unless the intrepid Buffalo Soldier -- as Alfred comes to style himself, after the African-American cavalry troopers whose legacy of integrity, honor, and personal responsibility inspires him -- can rescue them in time.
This quietly soulful novel speaks directly to the heart. It's an elegantly told story of salvation and the surprising places in which it can be found. Chris Bohjalian creates unaffected characters that are gentle and steadfast, vulnerable and fallible -- in a word, human. Expertly crafted with distinctive style, The Buffalo Soldier is a worthy addition to an already impressive body of work. (Ann Kashickey)