The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian

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With his trademark emotional heft and storytelling skill, bestselling author Chris Bohjalian presents this resonant novel about the formation of an unconventional family–the ties that bind it, and the strains that pull it apart. Two years after their twin daughters died in a flash flood, Terry and Laura Sheldon, a Vermont state trooper and his wife, take in a foster child. His name is Alfred; he is ten years old and African American. And he has passed through so many indifferent families that he can’t believe that his new one will last.

In the ensuing months Terry and Laura will struggle to emerge from their shell of grief only to face an unexpected threat to their marriage; Terry’s involvement with another woman. Meanwhile, Alfred cautiously enters the family circle, and befriends an elderly neighbor who inspires him with the story of the buffalo soldiers, the black cavalrymen of the old West. Out of the entwining and unfolding of their lives, The Buffalo Soldier creates a suspenseful, moving portrait of a family, infused by Bohjalian’s moral complexity and narrative assurance.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Chris Bohjalian's The Light in the Ruins.

About Chris Bohjalian

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CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the critically acclaimed author of twelve novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Skeletons at the Feast, The Double Bind, and Midwives. His novel, Midwives, was a number one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah's Book Club. His work has been translated into more than 25 languages and twice became movies (Midwives and Past the Bleachers). He lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter. Visit him at or on Facebook.From the Hardcover edition.
Published March 11, 2003 by Vintage. 432 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Buffalo Soldier

Kirkus Reviews

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It sounds like a TV movie of the week, but Bohjalian’s eighth novel, among them the Oprah-picked Midwives (1997), works hard and pretty successfully to transcend the hackneyed scenario of parents adopting a child after losing their own.

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Publishers Weekly

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Laura and Terry Sheldon are a white couple living in a small town in Vermont.

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Publishers Weekly

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He gives the boy a book about a post–Civil War western black cavalry unit, the Buffalo Soldiers, and a cap with a picture of their buffalo symbol and then invites the boy to learn to ride his horse.

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Star Tribune

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Terry believes Laura has shut him out of her life since the twins' death, and the arrival of the foster child doesn't help: "Now that they had Alfred, Terry felt completely irrelevant.

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Book Reporter

In THE BUFFALO SOLDIER, the homogeneity of a small Vermont village is disrupted when Laura and Terry Sheldon take in Alfred, a 10-year-old African American foster child.

Feb 25 2003 | Read Full Review of The Buffalo Soldier

Entertainment Weekly

What unfolds (the parents' relationship with a foster child they take in, and the subsequent unraveling of their marriage) ends on a note of hope, but Bohjalian takes a grimly honest view of the situation.

Apr 05 2002 | Read Full Review of The Buffalo Soldier

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