1971, the Alaskan Arctic:
"It was a times when much was hidden, before outsiders came on bended knee to learn from the elders. Outsiders came, but it was not to learn from us--it was to change us. There was a war and a university, an oil company and a small village, all run by men. There was a young man who hunted geese to feed his family and another who studied geese to save them. And there was a young woman who flew into the world of spirits to save herself..."
So relates Kayuqtuq, "the red fox". An orphan traumatized by her past, she seeks respect in her traditional Inupiat village through the outlawed path of shamanism. Her plan leads to tragedy when she interferes with scientist Leif Trygvesen, who has come to research the effects of oil spills on salt marshes - and evade the draft.
Told from Kayuqtuq's and Leif's perspectives, this is a tale of cultural conflict, spiritual awakening, redemption and love in a time when things were - to use the phrase of an old arctic shaman - "no longer familiar."
click on cover to buy
"An) exquisite example of storytelling... a gifted writer with a sense
of Alaska Native culture and tradition..."
~ First Alaskans magazine
"A wonderful tale" ~ Arctic Sounder
“The story took my breath away.
I wept my way through it, identifying profoundly with both protagonists. (Thomas) has a fine grasp of the complexity of human relations and culture in such a village. She also writes beautifully. A remarkable book altogether.”
~ Dr. Jean L. Briggs,
author of Never in Anger, and Inuit Morality Tale
"Amazing... I loved this book!! ...for a great read I highly suggest Flight of the Goose by Lesley Thomas.... a brilliant writer. I cannot say enough about this book (and) am recommending
it to every one I meet."
~ Sandra Ingerman
author of Soul Retrieval and Medicine for the Earth
"A compelling narrative that evokes the universal human desires that transcend cultural differences.... a rare combination of western and Native viewpoints." ~ Dr. George Divoky
Institute of Arctic Biology, U of Alaska
"Should be required reading for Congress... puts a human face
on the much-debated issue of oil drilling in Alaska's wilderness. A must read for anyone that wants to know more
than is in the headlines."
~ Heather Lende
author of If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name
Endorsed by Alaska Native Elders, anthropologists
scientists, writers and shamans...
Read at universities and schools; in academic libraries worldwide
Ff for more reviews, listings and more, scroll down
photo: author with little brother, 1971, Seward Peninsula (expedition to reindeer camp)
Awards and Endorsements
Flight of the Goose won 1st place in literary contests
Alaska Press Women Contest (Fiction)
Washington Press Association Communicator of Excellence in Fiction Contest
National Federation of Press Women Contest (Fiction)
FINALIST for the PNBA Pacific NW Booksellers award
"Powerful...This book deserves the marketing and promotion
that are too often wasted on inferior titles."
~ National Federation of Press Women Contest judge
"Masterful... A remarkable work...
a joy, a big broad deep river of a book..."
~ Alaska Press Women judge Richard Hoffman,
author of Half the House, and Love & Fury
"It was a joy to read a real book about Alaska and the Native experience
instead of the commercial touristy cliche version.
The story and language seemed true to Alaska."
~ Alaska Press Women judge
Listed as a book of note in Cultural Survival Quarterly; Shaman's Drum, Sacred Hoop, First Alaskans, Tundra Drums, Feminist Studies Journal, Sierra Club Magazine, Endicott Studio of Mythic Arts, Baiiki, and more
Indigenous Readers' Praise:
"An) exquisite example of storytelling...
a gifted writer with a sense
of Alaska Native culture and tradition...
a well-written page-turner that will warm your heart..."
~ First Alaskans magazine;
a statewide magazine
of Native business and culture
"A wonderful tale" ~ Arctic Sounder
"Flight of the Goose is a remarkable achievement... a novel about loss and loneliness, alienation and fear,
acceptance and forgiveness, natural and supernatural (whose) characters seem drawn from life. Its
memorable characters, believable setting, and complex treatment of problems that face us all in a world of unavoidable change and contact, will haunt the reader long after the covers have been closed."
~ Fred Bigjim, Inupiaq author of Plants: A Novel,
and Indian and Non- Indian Thinking, Listening and Speaking
(full review below)
The book brought back many childhood memories growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s here
in the Yukon Kuskokwim Deltas."
~ John Active, Yup’ik, in Tundra Drums
"A truly glorious manifesto... brilliant... an amazing understanding... To be an ambassador between these two worlds is a daunting, even hellish task. There are so many ways to screw up, offend, misinterpret, misrepresent, and confuse... However, Thomas seems to be the perfect ambassador."
~ Jack Dalton, Yup'ik storyteller and teacher
"I couldn’t put it down. Sámi scholar Rauna Kuokkanen calls shamanism
'the Indigenous paradigm' and resurrects the (Sami) word oainnádat
to explain it: clear weather or a clear light that makes it possible to see things in nature.
I believe the new meaning of oainnádat is to clear your ideas and thoughts in order to see properly.'
Kayuqtuq does that." ~ Faith Fjeld, Saami -Baiki: the International Saami Journal
“Memorable...One of the best novels of Alaska that I have read. With the author’s unerring knowledge of anthropology and social and environmental issues, it could fit any rural Alaskan village.”
~ Anthropologist Dr. Dorothy Jean Ray, A Legacy of Arctic Art,
and The Eskimos of Bering Strait 1650-1898
“The story took my breath away. I wept my way through it, identifying profoundly with both protagonists. (Thomas) has a fine grasp of the complexity of human relations and culture in such a village. She also writes beautifully. A remarkable book altogether.” ~ Anthropologist Dr. Jean L. Briggs,
author of Never in Anger, and Inuit Morality Tale
"A serious work of modern literature, unlike the detective genre of Alaska fiction we have all seen at the newsstands.... portrays a world in which traditional values clash with modern expectations."
~ Alaska Anthropological Association
"Unique and beautiful...an absolutely splendid book. It is a great pleasure for me to "go" to places such as Flight of the Goose describes, and to "live" for a time in those environments. Thomas knows her subject very well, and describes it very well, and writes very well, and when this is all put together the results are superb."
~ Anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of
The Old Way: A Story of the First People, and Reindeer Moon
"An amazing talent! One of the best books I've read - in a league with Barbara Kingsolver. Beautifully written...compelling... it is a rendition of Alaska that I can completely relate to, because it is so full of complexity and ambiguity. I was just really swept away by this book, and will recommend it to a lot of people."
~ Anthropologist Dr. Patty A. Gray,
author of The Predicament of Chukotka's Indigenous Movement
“I enjoyed it very much. The protagonist's voices sound authentic
as do the natural and cultural setting." ~ Michael Engelhard, anthropologist,
author of Ice Bear: the Cultural History of an Arctic Icon
Endorsed by Piers Vitebsky, author of Shamanism, and The Reindeer People
"What an extraordinary novel...(Thomas) deals with shamanism
and sorcery in a very realistic way..."
~Sacred Hoop Magazine
"(Besides) shamanic themes...the story addresses many other significant issues as well
- among them, climate change, environmental crisis, and indigenous rights
...and it does so with both artistry and insight."
"Amazing... I loved this book!! ...for a great read I highly suggest Flight of the Goose by Lesley Thomas....a brilliant writer. I cannot say enough about this book (and) am recommending it to every one I meet."
~ Sandra Ingerman, Soul Retrieval and Medicine for the Earth
"A gem...The reader is transported...as we witness the unfolding of the novice's inner world as a healer on a forbidden path...An impressive knowledge of circumpolar shamanism."
~ Gizelle Rhyon-Berry, The Foundation for Shamanic Studies
"I was entranced...Captures the fluidity of sacred time, the dis-ease of soul loss
and the profound desire of Spirit...I, too, experienced a healing in reading this remarkable book."
~ Robert Doud Martin Jr., Shamanic Practitioner and Co-Founder of World Tree Foundation, Alaska
“Inspired...I think this is a story that was meant to be told, because - fictitious or not - it tells us a lot about reality. It is a long time since reading anything has impacted me that heavily. Magical...evoking feelings and sensations of the ever-present mystery... When it all ended I just cried. This great novel worked on my soul, even though it felt raw and dark in many ways, like life itself; and I can recognize the feel of the north, being from northern Norway and of mixed heritage.”
~ Torstein Simonsen, student of Ailo Gaup, Saami shaman
“Flight of the Goose soars on wings of spirit. It is an absorbing and fascinating tale -- sweet, sad, soulful, and transformative. A profound demonstration of love imbued with a deep respect and reverence for the entire intricate network of life. A celebration of the soul of the shaman, the scientist, the woman, the man, the family, the community, the geese, the snow, and the ice.”
~ Donna Henes, urban shaman
author of Queen of Myself,
"(A) compelling account (of shapeshifting) in Flight of the Goose
(Sandra Ingerman recommended it to me), about the experience of a young
indigenous woman in northern Alaska learning to shape-shift,
which has continued to haunt me." ~ Nita Renfrew, shamanic healer, journalist
"The author accomplished two nearly impossible feats. First, she managed to write very believably from both a female and male perspective. Secondly, she also managed to write believably from the perspective of a scientist and from that of a shaman (angutkoq.) Having a little experience myself in both worlds I can testify that none of it rang false. I was amazed at how believable and genuine it all felt... The doubts of the young conscientious objector doctoral candidate took me back to my own youth. Yet, the trials of the young self-initiated angutkoq are what made the story for me.” ~ OakShaman, Amazon reviewer
endorsed by Ailo Gaup, Saami author of In Search of the Drum
"Flight of the Goose...is another fine example
(of nature or environmental writing in Alaska fiction)."
~ Nancy Lord, Alaska’s writer laureate;
author of Beluga Days and Early Warming
"An honest and vivid portrayal... this entrancing blend of mysticism and realism (and) should be of interest to birders and naturalists because of the central role that birds and other wildlife play."
~ John Trapp, ornithologist, author of Birds Etcetera
“I give Flight of the Goose an A +”
~ Dr. David T. Mason, arctic ecologist,
(with whom I did field research on the effects of oil spills
on arctic salt marsh (Outer Continental Shelf EAP)
"Thomas creates a vivid arctic landscape and explores the equally real psychic terrain that is connected to it. This powerfully-written love story draws forth the spirt of the north like the sun pulls vapor straight from ice, arousing a new understanding of what it means to be human."
"A compelling narrative that evokes the universal human desires
that transcend cultural differences....a rare combination
of western and Native viewpoints. The Arctic's scenic vistas
are readily available to the casual tourist and through the media.
Few westerners, however, are aware of the spiritual and mystical heritage
of the region's Native peoples or how the far north can affect outsiders
who spend extended periods in its natural habitats.
Thomas is fortunate enough to know both..." ~ Dr. George Divoky, Institute of Arctic Biology
"Intimate knowledge... a compelling portrait..."
~Bellingham Weekly, Earth Day edition
"I recommend (this) wonderful first novel.
Though I thought I knew all about this problem,
I was stunned by how global warming is changing
and harming Arctic communities and wildlife." ~ Sierra Club Magazine
Mystics weigh in:
"I was completely enchanted by this atmospheric novel about life in the Far North... Thomas explores themes of myth, cultural conflict, environmentalism, and spirituality against the spectacular backdrop of the Arctic tundra."
~ Terri Windling, Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts,
author of The Wood Wife, ed. of Snow White, Blood Red
"Flight of The Goose challenged my world view and opened my heart. (It) welcomes the reader through a mysterious door into the old ways of a village that no longer exists... My world disappeared and the arctic village life became more real to me than my own life. This to me is the essence of a great novel, for the reader to live with the story as if it were her own."
~ Joanna Harcourt-Smith, futureprimitive.org,
author of Tripping the Bardo with Timothy Leary
"Lucid and complex...enormously compelling (and) offers numerous avenues for theological reflections. After reading and discussing (Flight of the Goose) I brought to class an article on members of an Inupiat village that is suing Big Oil for destroying their traditional lifestyle. The class immediately grasped the significance of the lawsuit, thanks to this novel.”
~ Dr. Wesley Wildman, Boston University Theology Dept.
"Vibrant and genuine... A breathtaking landscape, poignant love story
and unforgettable characters delivered with a keen insight into human nature
make Flight of the Goose a marvelously good read."
~ The Twig, (journal of St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Seattle)
"I'm happy to recommend this intricate and poetic novel to those looking for more than a quick read or an easy story: looking for something more soulful, something that leaves the heart transformed...As a reader who teaches a graduate-level myth class, I appreciated the mythological references.... A good question for the reader to wonder about while reading: What myth are the lovers caught up in, and what are their options for finding each other from within it? (The old Norse saying that starts the Prologue puts it well: 'How can anyone know what is possible for those in love?')"
~ Dr. Craig Chalquist, depth psychologist,
Terrapsychology and Myths Among Us
"Thank you Lesley Thomas! I served as a pastor in Nome, Alaska.. I take my hat off to Thomas. She has captured the Seward Peninsula land, culture, and cultural transition issues better than anyone else I've read or spoken with, bar none.... (and) has driven deeper into the global and personal realities of cultural transition than anyone I know. And she's done it with genius, with a love story that will take your breath away. ”
~ Lars Clausen, Lutheran Minister
author of One Wheel, Many Spokes
“Thoroughly inspiring. . . (Thomas) has much to teach about love, life, perseverance of spirit and what really matters in life. I believe anyone interested in spirituality will love her book. I will definitely recommend this one to other ministers and seekers on the spiritual path.” ~ Sandra Soley Keep, Unity Minister
“Indelible…rare literature in a vast wasteland of contemporary fiction. I found myself underlining (Thomas's) words, my favorite quote being 'Whatever is already in us at birth, we find again in stories.' Her writing and depth of understanding about women, spirituality and shamanism and Inuit culture is phenomenal.”
~ Dr. Paula Vaughan, professor of mythology
"A beautifully told tale of love....The writing throughout is exceptionally fine, and the evocation of the culture... is detailed and subtle. The story’s emotional impact is deep, and its spiritual insights are profound."
~ Dr. Gerald McFarland, award-winning historian
and novelist (The Brujo’s Way), lay Zen monk
"Wonderful! Romeo and Juliet in the Arctic!
A radical, subversive honesty does not spare anyone from praise or blame.
I can’t remember when I’ve read a book so rich, so complicated but controlled, so moving. Thomas works her erudition into the novel seamlessly. No post-modern tricks, no playing for easy responses... Her detailing of the barbed-wire entanglements of culture, race, gender, family, politics is unfailingly convincing, and gut-wrenching at times. If I'd had this novel when I taught classes on the ancient goddess religions, I would have used it as a textbook."
~ Dr. William Keep, professor of English lit & book reviewer
“I find myself captivated...
Thomas’ upbringing provides a unique perspective
to the cultural clash in rural Alaska.
Her book is truly a gift and its value will only grow with time.”
~ Rob Childers, educator, Fairbanks Alaska
"This should be required reading
for teachers going to west Alaska."
~ Juneau book club’s Mary Lou
(teaches at the University of Alaska)
"Through wonderful storytelling, Thomas immediately
captures the connection of humans to animals to land.
She conveys the distinct truth that our survival
depends on one another.
This book is a must for those who care about what
we must do to preserve the world and everything in it."
~ Eva Abram, Seattle storyteller & teacher
“Filled with intensity of culture and heritage, family and love, I read with passion. I admire (Thomas’s) willingness to share her wisdom and insight. This work truly educates the reader of a people who are too often discriminated and forgotten. When will we slow and listen to the earth and our hearts?”
~ Fred Fanning, Seattle schoolteacher
"Transcendent... feels more real and true than I can describe... hits universal truths about the power of understanding, forgiveness.. and redemption to heal. (Thomas) portrays the complicated interweaving of culture, "progress" and how fear and love and trauma coexist to shape experience. It was so nice to read a book with such love and understanding throughout." ~ Saidee Whitehorn, nurse practitioner of rural Alaska
"Its reward was more than seeing through others' eyes.
It allowed me some experience of unfamiliar perceptions, place, culture, and spirituality,
and... a sense of new strands of universality."
~ Michael Marcus, County Judge, Portland
Book People Reviews
"The theme of star-crossed lovers is as old and universal
as any in the world's storytelling traditions.
Thomas conjures up a startling new variation in her impressive debut novel.
Powerful…haunting. . . erotic. . . rich with nuance and ambiguity.
Beyond the characters, exotic plot and masterful prose,
it challenges our worldview and touches the heart.” ~Fairbanks Daily News-miner
"Timely today for its themes of cultural and religious clashes, war, childhood traumas
and environmental threats, but also themes of survival
and the finding of oneself through love." ~The Nome Nugget
"Fascinated by the forces unleashed when different cultures rub up against each other...
Thomas' nontraditional childhood leads her into cultural exploration.." ~ Anchorage Daily News
“Unforgettable...authentic. . . rings as true as bell metal.
Thomas tackles some very big stuff—anthropology, myth, gender, science, institutionalized religion, the spirit world, ecology, colonialism, and more—and not only never falsifies but manages to bring them all into a fruitful relationship with each other. She has my admiration.”
~ Eugene Garber, award-winning author of Metaphysical Tales and Beasts in Their Wisdom
"A beautiful and compelling story of Arctic Alaska on the edge of the cultural and environmental upheaval...Cuts through sentimental notions of Native culture and Arctic wilderness with a clear and powerful honesty. An extraordinary weave of the complexities of culture, environment, family, and - finally - love."
~ Marybeth Holleman, author of The Heart of the Sound: An Alaskan Paradise Found and Nearly Lost
"Who would you pick from in this list of amazing authors? Seth Kantner, Jodi Picoult, Daniel Quinn, Craig Johnson, Pete Fromm, Kris Farmen, Eowyn Ivey, Bill Streever, Lesley Thomas, David Vann, Jo-Ann Mapson, and Ron Carlson."
~ Don Rearden, Alaska author of The Raven's Gift
"Should be required reading for Congress...
puts a human face on the much-debated issue of oil drilling in Alaska's wilderness.
This complex, thought provoking and moving story of the people that live in the far north
is a must read for anyone that wants to know more about Alaska than is in the headlines."
~ Heather Lende, author of If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name
"A dreamlike flow of images and language, impeccably crafted and deeply rooted in an authentic sense of place...Thomas' first novel brims with promise." ~ Nick Jans, The Grizzly Maze and The Last Light Breaking
"Very moving and revelatory. . .
a story we must all know before we make any decisions about the Arctic
that will forever haunt future generations."
~ Brenda Peterson,
author of Build Me an Ark and Living by Water: True Stories of Nature and Spirit
"Thomas has done what would seem to be the impossible -- taken us deep inside the Inupiat world, in the voice and mind of an extraordinary young woman with still more extraordinary powers. I know of no book like this. You'll be stunned by the depth and scope of this novel and the unique and unmistakably true voice of its heroine."
~ Lesley Hazleton, Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen
"Thomas masterfully braids two voices from vastly different cultures in a tale of loss and love. Her sensitivity to traditional knowledge and ways of knowing shines through her language and craft...A wonderful tribute to the Alaskan Arctic.” ~ Leslie Hsu Oh, award-winning Alaska writer, Fireweed, a Memoir
"Marvelous...wonderfully deft and vivid...authentic...
The author has an intimate sense of her subject...
The characters are so fully realized I felt I knew them all."
~ Lynne Fitzhugh, The Labradorians
Nancy Lord (past Alaska Writer Laureate, in 49 Writers):
"A question that intrigues me is why we think of "nature writing" almost exclusively as nonfiction...I nominate the late Marjorie Cole's novel Correcting the Landscape as a best book of nature/environmental writing. It won the Bellwether Prize for socially/politically engaged fiction and is full of the natural and human environment of interior Alaska. Lesley Thomas's Flight of the Goose, a novel set in the Arctic, is another fine example. I do think we sometimes have a double-standard regarding what we think of as "literature," with fiction and poetry elevated over "fact." ~ Nancy Lord, author of Early Warming: Crisis and Response in the Climate-Changed North
The Tusculum Review interviews award-winning Alaska author Melinda Moustakis, :
Q: "I know you’re not out to grind axes or prove points, but how do you navigate the political in your work as a writer writing about Alaska? And, who are some other contemporary writers writing about Alaska in similarly subversive ways that you’d recommend?
Melinda: "I’d recommend fiction set in Alaska by Seth Kantner, Nancy Lord, and Lesley Thomas. ...Thomas writes about love and loss in a fictional Inupiat Village..where the subsistence lifestyle is threatened by outsiders. Alaska is often called “the last frontier” and Thomas challenges this misnomer by writing about characters and a culture who have long settled in the Alaskan wilderness. (Thomas) proves Alaskan fiction is so much more than Jack London’s version of the state..." ~ Melinda Moustakis, Bear Down, Bear North
"If you liked Seth Kantner's Ordinary Wolves...
The setting and some of the themes are reminiscent... though the style and vision differ enough to make it a great companion read... I think Flight of the Goose is another good candidate (for an Alaskan book I would most like to see made into a film)-- lots of action, love interest, cultural and spiritual issues, classic tragedy in many ways."
~ Deb Vanasse, (49 Writers), Alaska author of Cold Spell
"Wonderful, authentic, lyrical and rich. Thomas brought the landscape alive."
~ Vivian Prescott, Alaska author of The Hide of My Tongue
"A deep rich novel that will leave readers eager for more of the truth about the 49th state...a heartbreaker, but only in that special sort of way that makes you grateful for the hurt."
~ Colleen Mondor, The Map of My Dead Pilots: The Dangerous Game of Flying in Alaska
"Remarkable...Beautifully written, original and fascinating...
I pray there will be other novels bearing Thomas' byline."
~ Jack deYonge, author of The Boom Town Boys: Coming of Age on Alaska's Lost Frontier
"My chest clutched on the last two pages. It took my breath away. This book should be out in front of every book store; every library should push it; the world should know about it and Lesley Thomas. I was blown away."
~ Jim Misko, Alaska author of Path of the Wind
"Lesley Thomas grabs your heart and soul in her fine novel Flight of the Goose...
take flight with her!" ~ Mary Alice Kier, literary agent (Cinelit)
from newspapers and other reviewers:
"Whoever wants to get closer to the present (of Alaska) without having to meet Sarah Palin should consider Flight of the Goose by Lesley Thomas." ~Die Presse newspaper, Austria
"Not just another ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) book, Thomas takes on the spiritual and mystical aspects of the Arctic." ~ Seattle Weekly
"Memorable and highly recommended (5 stars). A sophisticated story enriched by an impressive personal background...infuses realism and accurate detail into this work." ~Midwest Book Review
"Heartrending...vivid...timely...This story of star-crossed lovers probes the most burning issues of our day: the rights of women…war versus peace; magic versus science; oil company greed versus the traditional — and sustainable — society of the Alaska native peoples." ~People’s Weekly World
"A truly beautiful literary achievement...engrossing... Global warming and its tragic effects on the Far North have been on our minds these days, and Flight of the Goose is a great way to expand our knowledge of that remote region." ~Pacific Vision, Women's International League For Peace and Freedom
"A haunting atmospheric tale...this truly amazing first novel has won well deserved praise. The author's own multi-ethnic heritage and youth spent in an Alaskan village gives the rich details depth and believability."
~New Connexion, a Journal of Conscious Living
"A new look at what is real and what is not." ~ Fifty Great Novels Set In Alaska: About Great Books
"Thomas...takes the reader of this award-winning novel into a fascinating, foreign world." ~xtme-englishbooks (Germany)
"Fascinating and magical." ~ Queen Anne Books, Seattle
"Extraordinary" ~ Univ. of Alaska Bookstore
"A singular first novel...a winner." ~ Queen Anne News of Seattle
"A spiritually and environmentally resonant tale..."
~ In Other Words, Women's Books and Resources, Portland
"Recommended. At heart a love story...also a remarkable depiction of village life in the High Arctic at a time both near and far from our own. It is infused throughout with the endless light of the northern summer, the desperation and petrifying cold of the Arctic winter, and the predicament of a people caught between timeless traditions
and petroleum-driven modernity. ”
~ Toyon Books, Sedona
"Brilliant...one of the most indelible novels I have ever read...one of the most rare and precious finds for any avid reader interested in indigenous cultures. Gripping, soul-wrenching and defiant, (it) soars above the wasteland norm of most contemporary writing and bravely, sincerely explores issues of culture, gender, shamanism, love, abuse, environmental degradation, and political rape." ~ OneWomansMind.net
"One reason that we liked the book so much was that it portrayed Alaska as we know it and not some fake fantasy that others make up." ~ Glenallen, Alaska bookclub
" One-of-a-kind … Unforgettable …" ~ Joseph Jones, librarian, Vancouver B.C.
“Beautifully written, ethereal…masterful evocation…elevated psychological fiction…psychiatrically astute... (full of) nuance and complexity of the kind made famous by Melville.” ~ Book Room Reviews
"What a cosmic, karmic, seismic shift the elders in Thomas' excellent epic have endured in their lifetimes. This haunting book is a love story, a paean to survivors, an ode to a land and civilization literally melting - disappearing while the Global Big Oil Band plays on. Please read this book, and pass it on to all your sane friends and relatives."
~ TundraVision, top Amazon reviewer
"Mesmerizing and timely...An immensely interesting and important story... a blindingly realistic love story... a novel so rich that it deserves to be in the library of everyone who values fine storytelling while simultaneously respecting the threats and conditions of change that are only now being brought to our attention by the environmentalists. (This) establishes Lesley Thomas as an important author. Highly recommended."
~ Grady Harp, top ten Amazon reviewer
"Thomas applies her extensive knowledge of the culture, use of language, shamanism and way of life of the Inupiat people...ecological destruction...How two people from different cultures find love brings balance to the story that will enlighten you to way-up North Country." ~Bookbuffet
"A wonderfully written, engaging story...brought real world issues into a novel,
which really brought the characters to life."
~ Front Street Reviews
"Flight of the Goose soars beyond the physical realm to touch the spiritual...Eloquent writing, vivid descriptions and a plot pulsing with passion…" ~ In the Library Reviews
"Unforgettable...Beautiful writing, marvelous story, engaging characters." ~CompulsiveReader.com
"Step into another world with this wonderful book... With rich, illuminating prose...Thomas takes us on a unique journey to find what we all seek: human compassion, trust, a sense of belonging, and of course, love." ~PelePublications.com
"Excellent read (5 starred). Thomas brings her first-hand knowledge of growing up in the Arctic forward into a haunting story…I quickly devoured (this) fantastically told tale." ~Armchair Interviews
"The best book I've read this year. I can't get it out of my mind. Amazing. The characters are so real and the stories within are unforgettable." ~ Brynn Grumstrup Slate, blogger (Sustainablility)
“Alaska: Call of the Wild of course, and Flight of the Goose."
~ Owner of Castle Books in Beaumaris, Wales (recommending for Andrea Reads America reading project)
"A book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time because of my Alaskan roots.”
(~Garth Stein's nightstand reading), author of A Sudden Light; Raven Stole the Moon
and lastly: "We can't review at this time,
but keep up the great work
writing books that help the Earth!" ~ UTNE
Other Important Listings
Flight of the Goose is a textbook at:
Boston University, theology department
University of Alaska; University of Washington
Sterling College in Vermont
Alaska's North Slope School District (Inupiaq values)
Washington State high schools (science/ecology)
University of the Third Age (UK) for the continued education of retired people
The International School of Shamanism
and by shamanic students of Sandra Ingerman
and Lutheran Missionaries in NW Alaska
Flight of the Goose is listed as a work of note in:
Cultural Survival Quarterly, 2005
Inuit Studies Conference at Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center (2012)
First Alaskans magazine;; Tundra Drums magazine
Historical Dictionary of the Inuit; Daily Life of the Inuit
Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University in UK
Staley 2020 Reading List: The Inuit
(The Catherine McElvain Library in Santa Fe serves the School for Advanced Research.
The collection is focused on anthropology, archaeology, and Native American art)
Rural health clinics in Alaska and Australia
Churches (Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Unity)
Sacred Hoop and Shaman's Drum journals;
Baiki: the International Saami Journal;
Seattle Public Libraries (list honoring Native American fiction and poetry
John Marshall, critic, Seattle Post Intelligencer
Melinda Moustakis at Tin House Magazine
Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts;
Saint Andrew's Literary Journal;
UW Today: news at University of Washington
Alaska Women Speak;; 49 Writers; Insurgent 49; Nome Nugget
Alaska Gray Lines ("Top 17 Books set in Alaska")
Sierra Club magazine;
Friends of Cooper Island; (arctic ornithology/climate change)
(Presented w/ Dr. George Divoky of Friends of Cooper Island:
Monitoring Climate Change with Arctic Seabirds, at Richard Hugo House
Burke Museum of Natural History at University of WA;
Science Book a Day
Fiction Meets Science database, as a novel tagged w "ecology/habitat at risk"
Cli-fi Books; (climate change fiction);
Wikipedia (Shamanism Among Eskimo Peoples)
Birds, etc; blog by ornithologist; Arcticisms, blog by Alaskan ecologist
OneWomansMind.net; In Other Words Women's Bookstore; Feminist Studies Journal;
Futureprimitive.org; New Connexion magazine;
Women's Fiction book blog
Fred Bigjim's full review
"Flight of the Goose: A Story of the Far North is a novel about loss and loneliness, alienation and fear, acceptance and forgiveness, natural and supernatural. Lesley Thomas has carefully crafted a complex story set in Alaska at a time of rapid change, competing economic and social interests, and national crisis.
Her characters seem drawn from life. Both they and the circumstances in which they find themselves are believable, memorable, tragic, and hopeful. Although the novel is set in a time and place where inevitable conflicts must arise from clashes of cultures, communities, and beliefs, and from change itself, the real depth of Thomas’ work derives from the way she examines conflicts within individuals themselves. To an even greater extent, she illuminates how we are all responsible, through our own choices and actions, for much of the tragedy and alienation that afflicts all of us, regardless of our culture, country, or religion.
One of the most interesting and thought-provoking aspects of Flight of the Goose is the portrayal of the clash of beliefs in the Arctic. We see there is little basis in the common idea that Christianity is a “white man’s” religion, for none of the non-Native characters in the novel are practicing, nor even nominal, Christians. Instead, to find meaning in their lives, the bird man places his faith in scientific rationalism, the teachers in education and humanism, and the hunters in hedonism. Among the Native peoples, too, there are clashes of belief. Some families are Christian, some are not. Even those in the novel who are drawn to shamanism demonstrate an understanding of Jesus that is richer than that shown by any of the non-Native characters. We begin to realize that the real conflicts arise from individual choices related to exploitation, greed, selfishness, misunderstandings of others -- all of which have less to do with the precepts of any particular religion than with true practice of the precepts of these. Either way, we learn how dangerous it can be to delve into the supernatural carelessly, without understanding and preparation.
To a great extent, we watch tragedy unfold before us, brought about less by a clash of “great religions” than by refusal by all individuals involved to practice the moral precepts, common to these, to do good to one another. Instead, we find rejection of others, in both Native and non-Native settings, and as a result, alienation, confusion, and misunderstandings on multiple levels. These lead ultimately to loss of innocence, loss of culture, loss of family, loss of belief, loss of land, loss of life.
Yet, we are not left hopeless. Tragedy has not meant total destruction. This is also a novel about triumph over despair; maturity gained through pain; forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration made possible through acts of the will.
Flight of the Goose is a remarkable achievement. Its memorable characters, believable setting, and complex treatment of problems that face us all in a world of unavoidable change and contact, will haunt the reader long after the covers have been closed."
~ Fred Bigjim, Inupiaq author, Plants: A Novel, and Indian and Non- Indian Thinking, Listening and Speaking
Shamans' Drum full review
Review in Shaman's Drum Journal for Flight of the Goose :
"Set in a remote Inupiat village in 1971, Flight of the Goose is an insightful and well-written novel that delves into cultural, shamanic, and environmental themes of possible interest to many Shaman’s Drum readers. Author Lesley Thomas, who spent part of her early years growing up in rural Arctic communities, brings both a knowledge of Inupiat customs and traditions and a cross-cultural sensitivity to this story, which transcends cultural boundaries and explores the universal human themes of alienation, reconciliation, spiritual awakening, and love.
The story is told from the viewpoints of two main protagonists: Kayuqtuq, a young Athabaskan woman with a traumatic childhood, who has been taken in by an Inupiat family; and Leif, a long-haired American biologist who has come to the Arctic to study the potential impact of oil spills on the bird population and to avoid the Vietnam War draft. Both are outsiders, to varying degrees, and their observations on the milieu in which they find themselves and on their own, often troubled relationship are perceptive and poignant. The main voice is that of Kayuqtuq, who is looking back on the events of the story from a time many years in the future; Leif’s viewpoint is provided by the inclusion of passages from his well-worn journal, which she is once again reading.
The story that unfolds is rich and complex, exploring intercultural conflicts that lead sometimes to transcendence and sometimes to tragedy and highlighting the devastating effects of Western society on Inupiat life—including the loss of subsistence game animals, the decline of indigenous cultural and shamanic traditions, the damage inflicted by ignorant stereotypes, and the rise of alcoholism. The relationships between the characters are multifaceted and constantly evolving, as human frailties and strengths—fear, pride, jealousy, kindness, and love—come into play.
Although the book deals with a variety of interconnected themes, Shaman’s Drum readers may be particularly interested in Kayuqtuq’s spiritual journeys into the realm of the inua(spirits). From the beginning of the story, she has secretly pursued the path of an angutkoq (shaman)—a profession feared and outlawed due to Christian and governmental influences. Her impetus to follow a shamanic path may have stemmed in part from a desire to raise her status in the community—having been orphaned in childhood, she had been ill treated as a slave and was never fully accepted as a member of the family that later took her in. However, she clearly has an affinity for the work. With the help of her turnaq(guardian spirit), the red fox, she is able to travel to other places by spirit flight and observe what is happening there, and to enter visionary states to access hidden information.
Unfortunately, she has encountered obstacles to obtaining the shamanic teachings that she needs. There is only one young man in the village who professes to work as a shaman—having been trained by his elderly father—but he is of little help to her. Most of her training ultimately comes directly from the spirit world itself, supplemented only slightly by a couple of anthropological texts she has come across. Lacking the guidance of a human teacher, she discovers that some of her early actions have unintended consequences. At one point, she beseeches the spirit world out of jealously, and inadvertently sets in motion dangerous forces that are out of her control and that she cannot call back.
Kayuqtuq’s feelings about Leif create conflicts for her at various points in the story, but often inspire her to take the next step in extending the range of her shamanic work. For example, when Leif falls gravely ill, Kayuqtuq calls upon as-yet-untested shamanic abilities on his behalf. Feeling that she must sacrifice her most valuable possession in exchange for what she is asking of the spirits, she offers up her qilya (shaman’s powers)—only to find in time that they are not lost, but strengthened. Gradually, over the course of the book, her abilities increase and her understanding matures. She truly becomes an angutkoq, and this enables her to see more clearly on both the physical and spiritual planes and to come to terms with her own past. However, the help of the spirits is not always enough to ward off tragedy.
In the course of the story, Thomas delves into a variety of shamanic themes—including spirit travel, soul loss, shamanic questing, initiation by spirits, and the independent reality of spiritual forces. Her treatment of these topics is insightful, and her detailed narratives are well grounded in the cultural and spiritual traditions of the people.
Thomas provides a richness of cultural detail in her descriptions of the Inupiat lifestyle and the nuances of her characters’ behavior. For example, even the angle of an eyebrow conveys a culturally accepted meaning, which is not initially apparent to outsiders. She utilizes a goodly number of Inupiat terms in telling the story, and provides a glossary that readers may want to bookmark for frequent use while reading.
She deals sensitively with issues such as the decline of the traditional spiritual ways in the community; the effects of child abuse, alcoholism, and greed; and the conflicts and tragedies engendered by cultural misunderstanding and bigotry. The character of Leif makes an excellent foil for exploring some of these themes—as a Western-trained scientist of mixed Norwegian and Native heritage, he provides a unique viewpoint in the story through the record of his thoughts, as set down in his private journal. The entries serve as an apt device for disclosing his true feelings and his inner journey, as he struggles to survive the rigors of life in the harsh Arctic climate, learns to interact respectfully with the Inupiat community, and develops a meaningful relationship with Kayuqtuq. Along the way, Leif is slowly forced to admit the reality of spiritual forces and Kayuqtuq’s shamanic gifts, and he finally comes to respect and trust her abilities as an angutkoq.
Although I have chosen to focus largely on shamanic themes in this review, the story addresses many other significant issues as well—among them, climate change, environmental crisis, and indigenous rights. Incorporating themes from both Western science and indigenous mythology, it explores our ability as human beings to overcome cultural differences and form meaningful relationships—and it does so with both artistry and insight. In Flight of the Goose, Thomas has created a moving and extremely well-written story that, although set in the Arctic almost forty years ago, can help us learn to live more fully human lives today."
~ Roberta Louis, Shaman’s Drum Journal
2020: Flight of the Goose has the honor to be listed in McElvain Library Catalog for Staley 2020 Reading List: The Inuit (The Catherine McElvain Library in Santa Fe is a special library serving the scholars, artists, staff, and members of the School for Advanced Research. The collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials is focused on anthropology, archaeology, and Native American art)
2019: Flight of the Goose reaches #1 in Amazon rank of Kindles sold, Shamanism category!
2019: Flight of the Goose added to Cambridge U library, UK (Scott Polar Research Institute Shelf)!!
2019: Flight of the Goose added to Read Yourself Happy, Alaska
2019: Flight of the Goose listed in Fiction Meets Science database
January 2019: Happy New Year! May you thrive and be happy. May you continue reading books.
I realized today that Flight of the Goose is not only a "coming-of-age" but a "coming-of-sage" story. I am finding that, in spite of what I told some readers when it was first published, when they asked if there was a sequel and I said no, it is done, that maybe just maybe the characters live on. Their DNA lives on, that is, in The Otter's Ransom (set in the far past and future).
August 2018: Flight of the Goose selected by Seattle librarians for inclusion in list honoring Native American fiction and poetry
July 2018: Flight of the Goose breaks the barrier at 8,000 copies sold!
2018: Flight of the Goose in so many pubic and and academic libraries: is one near you to check out?
Feb 2018: Faith Presbyterian Church of Baltimore chooses Flight of the Goose for their book club. The novel does deal in theological and spiritual themes and has been endorsed by a Lutheran Pastor and a Unity Church minister, and studied at Boston University Theological (graduate) dept.
***Interestingly, Flight of the Goose has been chosen several times for book clubs of faith communities, and as a text for the theological dept. of Boston U. It has been reviewed in The Twig, of St Andrews Episcopal Church, by Unity Minister Sandra Keep, and by Lutheran pastor and author Lars Clausen. Flight of the Goose was used as a cross-cultural training text for missionaries to Bering Strait region Inupiat villages. It has been endorsed by academic journals of shamanism (Shaman's Drum, Sacred Hoop Journal) and shamanic practitioners including Bob Martin, Ryon-Berry, and Sandra Ingerman.
Fall 2017: The Otter's Ransom, first in a speculative fiction trilogy: getting the manuscript ready (release TBA)
Oct. 2017 Flight of the Goose listed in Science Book a Day (Melbourne). Yes, it is a science book!
Sept. 7, 2016: Flight of the Goose chosen for Buchanan, Michigan library bookclub (along with H is for Hawk, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, God Help the Child)
Jan. 2016 Somewhere in NYC a class set of 15 Flight of the Goose was bought (wonder what school - would be nice to know!!)
Nov. 1, 2015: Kindle edition Flight of the Goose reached #1 rank at Amazon
October 2015: I also am the owner/editor of Seattle indie Far Eastern Press and am proud to announce our new book by Alaskan Nancy Danielson Mendenhall about fishing and small boat fishermen and fish in Alaska and the Pacific NW: "Rough Waters" (Far Eastern Press, 2015)
Aug 2015: Somewhere a class has bought copies for Fall Semester -- probably Bethel Alaska (U of Alaska), which has used Flight of the Goose in it's World Literature classes in the past.
June 23, 2015:
Flight of the Goose reached #1 rank in Kindle editions during June 21-25. On one day 1,736 people got their copy - many in Europe, India, Latin America.
2015: Flight of the Goose listed here in "Planet Earth Books" at University of the Third Age, UK - exciting company such as Rachel Carson!
June 21, 2015: a book giveaway on Goodreads! 3 copies of Flight of the Goose to 3 lucky winners. Winners announced July 21.
May 2015: I like to see tweets about Flight of the Goose, like this one from Canada
March, 2015: Ecologist and book critic of "Arcticisms" cites Flight of the Goose again
2015: Flight of the Goose lands in United Kingdom and Germany
Oct 2014: joined Alaska writers cooperative Running Fox Books
Spring, 2014: Flight of the Goose listed as "cli-fi" (cli-fi, or climate change lit, is the newest sub genre of literature; Flight of the Goose was listed as "eco-fiction" or "deep ecology fiction" in 2005.)
2014: My Alaska writing is noted by Melinda Moustakis in her interview "The New Northern Gothic"
August, 2013: Flight of the Goose listed in the biblio of Pamela Stern's Historical Dictionary of the Inuit, 2nd Ed. -
(was used as a textbook at Sterling College in Vermont in Stern's course: "Stories and Storytellers of the Circumpolar North"
My writing is cited in Wikipedia ("Shamanism Among Eskimo Peoples" page)
2013: Another of my poems is finalist in Ode to a Dead Salmon contest 2013: "Rime of the Ancient Troller"
2013: Flight of the Goose makes it to Australian Outback: bookstore and women's health clinic; also to Germany, Denmark, UK
2010: Flight of the Goose cited in Daily Life of the Inuit, the first exhaustive study of modern Inuit society across the Far North
Aug. 2012: Alaska Gray Lines puts Flight of the Goose in their recommended list of Best 17 Books Set in Alaska
And famed ecologist blogger Arcticisms takes it with her hiking all over Alaska
2012: Inuit Studies Conference - Flight of the Goose got recommended by scholars at this event
March, 2012: My first listing in a European newspaper - Austria Die Press.com recommends Flight of the Goose to readers trying to understand regions of America and our Super Sunday elections
2011: The book made it to the Far North of Norway into the hands of Saami (grandpa Tor would be proud)
Flight of the Goose now with Kindle!
Nov. 2010; Listed in Mike Ruppert's Collapsenet directory (a site to help people prepare for ecological and economic collapse)
Aug. 2010: alma mater Fairhaven College reunion showcases Flight of the Goose and and an ancient poem I wrote
April 2010: Now nationally distributed (and print on demand, a much greener option)
Winter Semester 2010: University of Alaska Fairbanks class on world lit studies Flight of the Goose for a second term
2010: Two of my short stories appear in University of Alaska Press flash fiction anthology Cold Flashes
November 2009: my short story End Times for Ruby set in modern Nome, Alaska appears in The Northern Review literary journal; Nancy Lord writes that she is "especially wowed" by this story, in her post "Exploring Human Experience in the North".
August 09: my poem "Why as a Mighty Salmon I Will Not Leave" satirizing ex-governor Palin won third place in 49 Writers Ode to a Dead Salmon poetry contest, later appearing in Alaska Magazine
April 21, 2009: teleconference on Flight of the Goose with University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Kuskokwim campus
March 9, 2009: interview at 49 Writers, a new blog by and about Alaska writers
Spring Semester 2009: A P Biology Class at Peninsula High in Gig Harbor, WA chooses Flight of the Goose for its ecology curriculum
Winter Semester 2009: Boston University Theology Department chooses Flight of the Goose again for its curriculum!
2009: Anchorage Daily News runs a review and interview by Deb Vanasse
Winter Semester 2009: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kuskokwim Campus English Department chooses Flight of the Goose for its curriculum
Spring Semester 2008: Boston University Theology Department chooses Flight of the Goose for its curriculum
June - Dec 2008, Flight of the Goose displayed and sold at Burke Museum, University of Washington with exhibit The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World
2008: Sierra Club reviews Flight of the Goose
2007: Feminist Studies Journal lists Flight of the Goose
June 2007: I am faculty at Kachemak Bay Writers Conference
2007: Endicott Studios, the Journal of Mythic Arts reviews Flight of the Goose
September 9, 2006: National Federation of Press Women Annual Conference; book signing, selling, award ceremony, first place
2006: a wonderful endorsement for Flight of the Goose by Sandra Ingerman
2005: Alaska's Peninsula Clarion (and Fairbanks Daily Newsminer) reviews Flight of the Goose - this is one of my favorite reviews of all time!
BOOK CLUBS reading Flight of the Goose (that I know of) include ones in Minnesota, San Diego, Tallahassee, Portland, Port Townsend, Seattle - and in Alaska: Nome, Bethel, Juneau, Glenallen
Elliot Bay Book Store, Richard Hugo House, UW Bookstore, Third Place Books, Harbor Bookstore, Queen Anne Bookstore, Santoros Books, Seattle Yacht Club (10th Mountain Infantry Division - World War veterans)
Snowgoose Art Gallery, Seattle Metaphysical Library, Soul Foods Books, Secret Garden, All For Kids (and Adults Too), B & Noble,
Village Books of Bellingham, Friday Harbor, In Other Words Bookstore of Portland, Faith Presbyterian Church Baltimore
Alaska: Title Wave Anchorage, UAA bookstore, Cook Inlet, Gulliver's Books of Fairbanks, Arctic Trading Post of Nome