ABOUT THE BOOK
Rosanne Parry author of Heart of a Shepherd, shines a light on Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s, a time of critical cultural upheaval.
Pearl has always dreamed of hunting whales, just like her father. Of taking to the sea in their eight-man canoe, standing at the prow with a harpoon, and waiting for a whale to lift its barnacle-speckled head as it offers its life for the life of the tribe. But now that can never be. Pearl's father was lost on the last hunt, and the whales hide from the great steam-powered ships carrying harpoon cannons, which harvest not one but dozens of whales from the ocean. With the whales gone, Pearl's people, the Makah, struggle to survive as Pearl searches for ways to preserve their stories and skills.
I found this a thoughtful read about a girl who struggles to find her place in the world after her father dies. The book focuses on a minority culture in a world that rejects and tries to manipulate it. With the whales disappearing from the area because of over fishing Pearl wonders where she fits. She wants to weave like her mother, but she never learned how. When a visitor arrives from an art museum, Pearl quickly becomes suspicious of the man. Can she figure out what he's up to and find her place in the world?
Strengths: The depiction of the culture is beautifully done, at least I found it so. Of course I know little about the culture of the different Pacific Native American groups. I also found the portrayal of the challenges Native Americans have faced over the years to be rather poignant. Pearl is very much a sympathetic character who struggles to find her place, a nice coming of age story.
Weaknesses: Most child readers aren't big fans of thoughtful reads, so it would be difficult for me to get a child to pick this up. Sigh, plus historical fiction is a hard sell to begin with.