The Wind Is Not A River by Brian Payton


Click to visit Brian Payton’s website.




I think I first learned about this book through The Afterword Reading Society (how has this book club become such a big thing in my life?). I was drawn to The Wind Is Not A River because I’m fascinated by survival stories and knew absolutely nothing about the Japanese invading the Aleutian Islands of Alaska or the displacement of the Aleut people.


The story takes place during World War II in Alaska. Following the death of his younger brother and a heated argument with his wife, John Easley takes off to secretly investigate the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands. The U.S. government has kept the invasion under wraps and Easley is determined to inform the public of what is taking place on American soil. However, Easley’s plane is shot down and he becomes stranded on the island of Attu, not far from a Japanese soldier camp. Meanwhile Helen, his wife back in Seattle, can’t get any information about her husband’s whereabouts, but it’s clear he is either missing or dead. Even though she has an ill father, Helen knows nothing is going to happen unless she does it herself. Through a friend, Helen joins a singing troupe for the United Service Organization and finds herself heading north. Now she’s the one on a secret mission. Full of hope and prayers, Helen is determined to find Easley and bring him home.


The Wind Is Not A River is an emotionally stirring story about finding out who you are as a result of adversity. Spending most of the story apart, Easley and Helen are forced to examine who they are, what they have done and what matters most in this fragile life. I liked Easley and Helen for being normal, everyday people you and I would know. No excessive egos or idiosyncrasies to make them stick in your mind, just the story of two people who lost and found one another during the war.


I have nothing bad to say about the book, as it was a truly an enjoyable story.


In addition to the suspense and romance in the story, Brian Payton draws attention to the fairly unknown Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands and plight of the Aleut. He interweaves the confusion, sadness and horror of war without interfering with Easley and Helen’s story. I particularly enjoyed following Helen’s journey, as she summoned all of her inner strength and courage to go way out of her comfort zone to find Easley. She was a very admirable character in a very admirable book.


10 Comments on “The Wind Is Not A River by Brian Payton”

  1. writereads says:

    My partner picked this up awhile ago, but it has been sitting on the shelf. Will have to tell her it’s time to start reading it – thanks for the great review! – Tania

    • It’s a very easy book to read and get into the story. I hope she likes it!

      By the way, I downloaded your latest podcast and I’m really enjoying it. But for some reason my phone attached a Backstreet Boys album cover instead of your logo, so that’s what I see when I listen. Weird!

  2. writereads says:

    I LOVE IT! I’ll have to tell Kirtles about that 🙂 That happened to me with another podcast, I got some country band’s album cover instead of theirs. Weird. Thank you for listening – we’re still getting used to doing this, but hopefully every episode shows some improvement.

  3. Naomi says:

    I’m glad to see this review, because my Mom was just telling me about this book two days ago, at which time I had never heard of it. She thought I might like it, because it takes place during the war (I like the wars), and it’s about a part of the war you don’t hear much about. She was also recommending a book called The Secret of Raven Point, also a new one about the war. There are just too many good ones! I haven’t finished all the old ones yet!

    • I think you will like this book a lot because it has a good balance between being about the characters and being about the war. I like stories in a war setting too, as much as they make me sad. I haven’t heard of The Secret of Raven Point, but I’ll look it up. So many books, so little time!

  4. Cecilia says:

    I had no idea the Japanese had invaded the Aleutian Islands either. The book sounds fascinating (I have a special interest in Japan). I was familiar with the title but didn’t know what it was about. Thanks for the good review!

    • I hope you get the chance to read it. Apparently, next to Iwo Jima, the battle on these islands were the most costly during the war because of all the resources they dedicated.

  5. So fun to end a review with “I have nothing bad to say” 😀

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