A MAGICAL JOURNEY — A Review of “Whale Song”

From the talented author Cheryl Kaye Tardif we are given a poignant and haunting tale—a coming-of-age story of a young girl transplanted to an island culture that combined Native mysticism with the beautiful animal world of the whales.

When Sarah Richardson’s family moved from Wyoming to Vancouver Island, she was not happy. Leaving behind a life of familiarity and comfort, including her best friend, she could not imagine ever experiencing joy again. Her parents, however, immerse themselves into their new lives—her mother resumes her art and her father, his marine biology.

But soon enough, she finds herself seamlessly drawn to the island, the ocean, and eventually to a new best friend—Goldie Dixon—and a wise old woman called Nana, who instilled Native Nootka mysticism into her new identity.

Unfortunately, as she begins a new school year, she becomes the victim of racism meted out by another young girl and learns what it’s like to be bullied. In the process, however, she discovers the other girl’s secret abuse by her father, and during a school field trip, when she saves the other girl’s life, they become fast friends.

As life begins to settle into some kind of normalcy, Sarah is happy— she even has experienced her first crush on Adam, a young boy in her class.

But then life takes a tragic turn, as she learns of her mother’s terminal illness. Then in a horrible and devastating moment that dramatically alters all of their lives, something happens in that hospital room; something that Sarah cannot remember—hysterical amnesia, the doctors report. Because her father is the suspect, he is sent to prison for murder…for allegedly turning off his wife’s life support.

Through the horrible aftermath, Sarah clings to Nana’s words: “When wolf walks by her, she will remember.”

What finally emerges, years later, will set them all free.

A powerful tale of mystery, drama, coming-of-age, and Native mysticism, Whale Song: A Novel was like a magical journey…I couldn’t put it down!

SENTIMENTALITY — A Review of “Same Time Next Year”

When this movie came out, I loved it! In fact, I listened to the music from Johnny Mathis (“The Last Time I Felt Like This”) over and over.

In this movie, the premise seems trite. A couple meets, spends a weekend together, and that’s it. But it isn’t, and this particular couple, played by Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn, decides to meet again the “same time next year.” And then, over the next couple of decades, we see the two of them connect again and again. We watch them as they grow and change—sometimes she grows more than he, and sometimes vice versa.

We’re kind of rooting for them to get together, but we also know, on some level, that if this relationship were to become permanent, it would change…irrevocably.

I love the pairing of these two actors, and the theme music from Johnny Mathis evokes so many emotions in me…from that time. It transports me back to what was happening in my own life.

A memorable movie that touches on emotions and reminds us that it’s the moments in life that are most memorable.

NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED — A Review of “One Good Turn”

When a mysterious man driving a Peugeot puts on the brakes to avoid hitting a passenger, he is struck from behind by a blue Honda. This action sets in motion a whole series of events – beginning with Honda Man wielding a bat toward Peugeot driver’s head – which next leads to a bystander’s intervention. The mild-mannered bystander hits the bat-wielding individual with his laptop case.

The lives of these disparate individuals collide in this moment; then they begin to intersect at various points along the way in the upcoming days. As it turns out, the mild-mannered man is a successful mystery writer – Martin Canning – who pens his novels under the name Alex Blake. The man in the Peugeot is “Paul Bradley,” but in actuality, this is an alias. And Honda Man turns out to be one Terence Smith.

Add to the mix a businessman, Graham Hatter, whose dealings are fraudulent; his disenchanted wife Gloria, who is not unhappy when he has an accident in a hotel room with a woman and ends up in ICU, near death; and then toss in the machinations of members of a cleaning/miscellaneous assignments crew called Favors – and you have the makings for a complex suspense tale that draws the attention of the local police – namely Louise Monroe – and a former policeman/private detective named Jackson Brodie.

All are in Edinburgh, where a Festival is going on – and where Julia, Jackson’s girlfriend, is a participant, along with comedian Richard Mott, who also happens to be Martin Canning’s houseguest.

How does each of these characters figure into the overall plot? Who has set in motion the events that will lead to murder, mayhem, and destruction? Rapidly turning pages, hoping to find the answers, I could not get there fast enough.

Just as exciting as Atkinson’s previous and subsequent novels, Case Histories: A Novel and When Will There be Good News? (Import) (UK Hardcover) Atkinson, One Good Turn: A Jolly Murder Mystery leaves the reader wanting more – all the way to the surprising end.