Reviews for Wind Is Not a River

Booklist Reviews 2013 November #2
Part adventure tale, part love story, this beautifully written novel offers a moving portrait of a couple whose lives are forever changed by the only battle of WWII to take place on American soil. Following the death of his brother in the war in Europe, grieving journalist John Easley feels an obligation to report on the war and talks himself onto a plane doing a bombing run over the Aleutian Islands. When the plane is shot down on Attu, he finds himself in a fight for his life as he battles hunger and the cold while hiding out from Japanese soldiers, who have shipped the natives off to internment camps and taken over the island. Meanwhile, back in Seattle, John's wife, Helen, lies about her lack of experience and joins a USO troupe set to entertain American soldiers in the Aleutians, determining that she will be more likely to locate John and bring him home if she is closer to the battle action. 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. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 October #2
An unusual novel in that Payton takes us to a theater of war not normally visited--the Japanese-occupied Aleutian Islands in 1943. John Easley is deeply involved in the war but ironically not as a soldier--he's a journalist. On a quest for the truth about what's going on in this remote Alaskan territory, he is shot down and forced into survival mode on the island of Attu. The only other survivor of the crash is Airman 1st Class Karl Bitburg, a Texan running away from an impossible home life. For a while, the two survive on mussels and live in a cave, hidden from the 2,000 Japanese in their immediate area. Meanwhile, John's wife, Helen, is consumed with worry about her missing husband and decides to take desperate measures to learn of his fate. An amateur dancer and performer, she gets a job with the United Services Organization (thanks in part to a sympathetic band leader) and wangles a trip to entertain the troops in Alaska. She's able to find out small bits of information--for example, that John passed himself off as a Canadian soldier using the uniform of his younger brother, Warren, recently deceased in action around the English Channel. Further complications on the homefront involve Helen's father, Joe Connelly, whose recent stroke has left him somewhat incapacitated. Torn between caring for her father and looking for her husband, Helen is eased somewhat by Joe's insistence that she follow her heart and seek out John. Eventually, husband and wife reunite, but Payton keeps this reunion poignantly brief. 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. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 August #1

To assuage his grief over his brother's death fighting in Europe, journalist John Easley has headed north to investigate Japan's invasion of Alaska's Aleutian Island during World War II (it really happened). When he joins a bombing run and is plane is shot down, John must struggle to survive in a harsh environment while avoiding capture. His wife, meanwhile, is determined to find him and bring him home. Fine writing (Payton's Shadow of the Bear was an NPR Pearl's Pick), Ecco's recent track record, and the 100,000-copy first printing all recommend this work.

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Library Journal Reviews 2013 November #2

Still grieving the loss of his brother who went down with his plane over the English Channel, journalist John Easley, determined to make sense of the war, dons his brother's uniform and heads to the territory of Alaska where he hopes to document the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands. While John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run, his plane is downed over the island of Attu. He and one other survivor of the crash endure a desperate struggle to survive the cold and hunger while evading patrolling Japanese soldiers. Meanwhile John's wife, Helen, leaves her ailing father in Seattle and joins a USO show, hoping to make her way to Alaska to search for her husband. This moving and powerfully written novel explores themes of war, life and death, morality, and love in a unique World War II battleground that very few people outside Alaska know about or remember. VERDICT Payton, known for his nonfiction works Shadow of the Bear and The Ice Passage, has written a suspenseful, beautifully researched title that readers will want to devour in one sitting. 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! [See Prepub Alert, 7/22/13.]--Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage P.L., AK

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 October #3

This top-notch WWII historical novel from Vancouver-based writer Payton (Hail Mary Corner) involves the little-remembered Japanese invasion and partial occupation of Alaska's Aleutian Islands. War correspondent John Easley is shot down in a seaplane along with six crewmembers in April 1943, just off the barren island of Attu. He and the only other survivor, young Texan aviator Karl Bitburg, hunker down in a beachside cave while hiding from the Japanese. Meanwhile, John's wife, Helen, is living in Seattle while helping her father, Joe, recuperate from a stroke. She resolves to search for her missing husband, from whom she's been separated ever since she delivered an ultimatum to him to choose between her and his work. John had chosen to leave Helen and continue what he regarded as his patriotic duty as a war reporter, spurred on by the memory of his kid brother Warren's fatal crash into the English Channel while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Helen joins a USO troupe assigned to Alaska but finds the strict censorship of military information a hindrance to her desperate quest. Payton has delivered a richly detailed, vividly resonant chronicle of war's effect on ordinary people's lives. Agent: Victoria Sanders, Victoria Sanders & Associates. (Jan.)

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