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!

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