The title of this book leaped out at me from the striking cover, but when I started reading, I was captivated by how meaningful the title was to this very moving story. Cheryl Kaye Tardif's words, scenes and characters flowed through the pages so smoothly I almost forgot I was reading. I felt as though I were in Canada with the characters.
This is a story about an eleven-year-old girl, Sarah Richardson, who moves with her family to Vancouver Island, Canada where her father, a biologist, has taken a new job studying killer whales. Sarah makes friends with a neighbor girl, Goldie Dixon, who is a Nootka Indian. Before Sarah moved there, a tragedy occurred in Goldie's family; it involved her older brother, and there is a mysterious tie-in to this novel's title through that occurrence.
Goldie's wise granddmother, Nana, steeped in Indian tradition, plays a major role in Sarah's life, and Goldie's entire family becomes friends with Sarah's family as the story unfolds. When Sarah's mother becomes ill, a boy who has a crush on Sarah gives her a lovely whale figurine which is another tie-in to the title.
What happened in Goldie's family before Sarah came to live there? How does Sarah lose her mother ... and then her father, in uniquely different ways? How does she reclaim them both ...in uniquely different ways? And how does Sarah lose her memory? Why can't she remember the events of the most tragic day in her life? And just how does a whale figure into the plot? Do people who are drowned truly come back as whales, as the Nootkas believe?
That's a long list of questions, I know, but this author answers them with such dexterity, she'll leave you breathless. And, finally, the question that begs to be answered: What IS a Whale Song and how does it help Sarah reclaim her mother?
To get the answers to those questions, you must read this intriguing, exciting book. It will tug at your heart strings, stirring your emotions like no other.
One doesn't simply read a Tardif story, one experiences it! Among the very few authors I've ever said that about is my all-time favorite Pat Conroy. Like him, Cheryl Kaye Tardif has a definite way with words.
This is not only a coming-of-age story, it's a love story, a mystery and a family drama in one clear, concise package. Though billed as women's fiction or general fiction, this novel will appeal to YA and all generations--just as "Harry Potter" does.
"Whale Song" is a bestseller in Canada and the US. It made both lists on Amazon shortly after it was released. I'm not surprised that a film producer is looking closely at this book. In the front of my copy, Tardif wrote: Dare to Dream, and Dream Big! I certainly hope her Big Dream comes true and this novel becomes a movie!
My only regret is that I didn't discover this author sooner. She has two other novels out, "Divine Intervention" and "The River." But she says she "holds this one close to her heart." Well, it's now close to my heart, too, as I'm sure it will be to yours. I look forward to reading those other two, but I can't wait to read the one she's currently working on; it's a nonfiction story about the tragic murder of her younger brother and his friends, The Porch Monkeys ... a story of the lost, the forgiven.