Wind is Not a River (Payton)

The Wind is Not a River 
Brian Payton, 2014
320 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780062279972

A 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, to document some part of the growing war that claimed his own flesh and blood. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Helen, after an argument they both regret, he heads north from Seattle 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 in their home three thousand miles to the south, 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.

A powerful, richly atmospheric story of life and death, commitment and sacrifice, The Wind Is Not a River illuminates the fragility of life and the fierce power of love. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Los Angeles County, USA
Education—Seminary of Christ the King;
   University of Victoria
Currently—lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Brian Payton is an Ameroican-Canadian writer of books and essays. Born in  in 1966, Payton lived in California, Illinois, Texas, New Mexico, and Alaska before settling in British Columbia at the age of 16. He was educated at the Seminary of Christ the King and attended the University of Victoria.

Payton's nonfiction writing about adventure, wildlife, and the environment has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Canadian Geographic. His books include both novels and nonfiction.

Payton’s first novel, Hail Mary Corner (2001) is a coming-of-age tale based on his experience living among fellow seminarians and Benedictine monks.

Shadow of the Bear: Travels in Vanishing Wilderness (2006),  work of narrative nonfiction, chronicles a personal search for the eight remaining bear species across continents, cultures, and memory.

The Ice Passage: A True Story of Ambition, Disaster, and Endurance in the Arctic Wilderness (2009), is a narrative nonfiction account of the final voyage in the 1850s of HMS Investigator.

His historical novel, The Wind Is Not a River (2014) is the story of a World War II journalist who, after a plane crash, survives in the Alaskan wilderness and hides from Japanese soldiers who have invaded the Aleutian Islands.

Payton lives with his wife in Vancouver. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 1/12/2014.)

Book Reviews
A haunting love story wrapped in an engaging and unsettling history lesson…Along the way, readers will learn not just about a fascinating and largely forgotten slice of American history, but what it felt like to live through it.
USA Today

Payton crafts a beautiful, heart-inspiring and heart-wrenching tale of love, forgiveness, loneliness, the strength of the human spirit, and the power of faith in God and family. These are not the stories we heard from our parents, but they are believable nonetheless.
Pitttsburgh Post Gazette

This top-notch WWII historical novel...involves the little-remembered Japanese invasion and partial occupation of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. War correspondent John Easley is shot down in a seaplane.... He and the only other survivor, young Texan aviator Karl Bitburg, hunker down in a beachside cave while hiding from the Japanese.... Payton has delivered a richly detailed, vividly resonant chronicle of war’s effect on ordinary people’s lives.
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review.)John Easley...and one other survivor of [an airplane] crash endure a desperate struggle to survive the cold and hunger [in Alaska] while evading patrolling Japanese soldiers. Meanwhile John's wife, Helen,...joins a USO show, hoping to make her way to Alaska to search for her husband.... [A] suspenseful, beautifully researched title that readers will want to devour in one sitting. —Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage P.L., AK
Library Journal

Payton, in the loveliest of prose, illuminates a little-known aspect of WWII while portraying a devoted couple who bravely face down the isolation, pain, and sacrifice of wartime.

Set against a meticulously described Alaskan setting, each harrowing or quietly painful minute is portrayed in realistic detail…The book arcs poetically across the distance between Helen and John, drawing out the separation that they (and the reader) can hardly bear.

An unusual novel in that Payton takes us to...the Japanese-occupied Aleutian Islands in 1943. John Easley...a shot down and forced into survival mode on the island of Attu.... Meanwhile, John's wife....wangles a trip to entertain the troops in Alaska.... [Through alternating chapters] Payton effectively gives the reader two visions—and two versions—of a neglected aspect of World War II.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

We'll add specific questions if and when they're made available by the publisher.

top of page (summary)

Site by BOOM Boom Supercreative

LitLovers © 2018