Review in Prairie Books NOW (Fall/Winter 2014)

Grey Eyes is a novel about the quest for balance and harmony in a world where evil tries to rear its ugliness. The Grey-Eyes are a chosen few who old ancient power steeped in ceremony. However, the Grey-Eyes have become rare, with only one left in the village of Nehiyawak. The only hope against the menace of the Red-Eyes is the birth of a new Grey-Eyed boy. Author Frank Christopher Busch was inspired by the stories of residential school survivors he heard while working on Indian Residential School Agreement claims. “Someone suggested that I compile some of the stories of abuse I was told by the survivors, but they had been told in confidence and were not mine to share,” says Busch. “It made me think of what it was that really needed to be written and it dawned on me that the survivors needed something to reconnect them to their language and culture. When my first son was born with grey eyes, I was inspired to write of a life lived in the traditional way.” Busch, who is a member of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and grew up in northern Manitoba, was also influenced by Aboriginal literature. “I studied native studies at the University of Manitoba and have continued to read much of the literature that is out there. Most of it is told from a non-Indigenous viewpoint, usually from the diaries and notes of ‘explorers’ and ‘missionaries.’ Too much of their bias shines through in the historical records and so-called academic writings,” he explains. “I began to focus on the writings of Indigenous authors like Thomas King, Vine Deloria, Sherman Alexie, Lee Maracle, Richard Wagamese, and, more recently, Joseph Boyden. All of these authors are scholars in their own right, recognized both within and outside of academia. It was mostly through their fiction and poetry that I was able to discover the historical truths and spiritual heart of Indigenous America.” Although Grey Eyes is a work of fiction set before the residential schools existed, Busch’s interviews with residential school survivors helped build the foundation for the novel. “I personally interviewed approximately 800 residential school survivors in Western Canada from northwestern Ontario to the Yukon. I dedicated my novel to them, as well as all other survivors of colonial assimilation policy, because they inspired every aspect of the novel,” says Busch. “I delve deeply into the legends and spirituality of Indigenous peoples in order to reconnect them to their stolen birthright. It is my hope to see them rediscover within the pages of Grey Eyes the culture and heritage that was wrongly taken from them.” Busch believes that readers from all cultural backgrounds will be touched by Grey Eyes. “I want readers to discover the unique magic that is within each and every person. An act of kindness, a smile, a thoughtful gesture or a word of encouragement can truly change another person’s life for the better,” he says. “I believe in a return to the fundamental beliefs of respect, love, courage, humility, honesty, wisdom, and truth – what we call ‘The Seven Sacred Teachings.’ These are virtues that are universal and are too often being eroded by our new fast-paced, modern way of life.

— Paula E. Kirman

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