The first time journalist Jon Lurie meets Jose Perez, the smart, angry, fifteen-year-old Lakota-Puerto Rican draws blood. In these unlikeliest of circumstances, the two became friends. Five years later, both men are floundering. Lurie, now in his thirties, is newly divorced, depressed, and self-medicating. Jose is embedded in a haze of weed, women, and street feuds. Both lack a meaningful connection to their cultural roots: Lurie feels an absence of identity as the son of a Holocaust survivor who refuses to talk about her experience, and for Jose, whose Lakota heritage has been all but disappeared in the wake of urban social disintegration, communal history has been obliterated by centuries of oppression.
Then Lurie hits upon a plan to save them. After years of admiring the journey described in Eric Arnold Sevareid s 1935 classic account, “Canoeing with the Cree,” Lurie invites Jose to join him on the mythic two thousand mile journey along the Red River from Breckenridge, Minnesota to the Hudson Bay. A trip thateven in the best of conditionsis no easy feat. Faced with plagues of mosquitoes, extreme weather, suspicious law enforcement officers, tricky border crossings, and Jose s preference for Kanye West to the great outdoors, the journey becomes an odyssey of self-discovery, restoration, and a search for community. Acknowledging the erased native histories that Sevareid s prejudicial account could not perceive, and written in gritty, honest prose, “Canoeing with Jose” is poised to become a classic account of its own.