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The Transformation Hardcover – October 19, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"There are more than two worlds between them.... When would they see that they were two parts of a whole?" Norwegian author Mette Newth's third novel is the exquisitely written story of a Christian and a pagan who battle the elements, conflicting beliefs, and each other before realizing that the Great Mother (or Father) had always meant for them to be together. Brendan is a young Irish monk who has been charged to convert the heathen souls of 15th century Greenland. But his zealous heart has been no match for the freezing environment, and he is the last one left alive in his small Christian outpost. Enter Navarana, an Inuit shaman in training who is searching for food for her starving tribe. She happens upon the unconscious Brendan and against her better judgment, saves his life. The two are bound together and at the advice of a village elder, go on a mission to seek the missing sun, which has not shone with any regularity for three long seasons. On this journey, they share mental and physical trials that transform them from argumentative loners into soul mates believing in the same vision.

Newth's young adult novels are simply remarkable. Her writing transports readers to a world beyond imagination, where she makes them feel every joy and pain of her deftly drawn characters. The Transformation illustrates the principle of ethnic and religious tolerance in a way that is neither preachy nor sappy, and many teens will be stunned to realize that this contemporary problem has such a long past. This is an unforgettable tale from an amazingly gifted author. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

From Publishers Weekly

Set during a severe cold spell in Greenland in the mid-1400s, Norwegian author Newth's (The Dark Light) novel competently raises issues of faith and beliefs as it chronicles the coming together of an Inuit woman and a Christian monk. However, an unconvincing love story and a rushed conclusion make for an uneven read. The story alternates between the perspectives of Navarana, the young Inuit woman, and Brendan, a monk whom she discovers dying of starvation in an abandoned church and nurses back to health. He feels conflicted: these people do not look or act like the heathens he has imagined. Readers will be transfixed by descriptions of Navarana's desperate polar bear hunt (the sow becomes her spirit guide), and by the Old One's teachings (he explains that there is no food, for example, due to the Sea Mother, who was angry "because Her long hair was always filthy and tangled from the sins of Human Beings"). Brendan and Navarana's transition from friends to lovers unfortunately lacks this energy ("When they melted together, they were both aware that it was this they had longed for") and the conclusion is equally bland. The elders tell Navarana she must travel to the edge of the world and win back the sun from the trickster Raven. But their showdown is brief and rather uneventful. All in all, despite this novel's fascinating premise, something gets lost in translation. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 195 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st English language ed edition (October 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374377529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374377526
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,680,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
An interesting novel about the clash between Christian and Pagan ideologies and cultures, this time with a happy ending for once. Is it possible for people of very different backgrounds to "just get along"?- this story suggests that they might, given the right personalities and circumstances and of course, the influence of love. The descriptions of Inuit and European Medieval life are well drawn, the settings are realistic, the main weakness is that the Inuit heroine is a bit too "empowered" to be completely believable- Inuit culture tends to be very male dominated, and in many cases women were not allowed to hunt.
Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and would recommend it to people interested in the historical clash between Christian and non Christian belief systems -this is kind of a historical "what if" that I found inspiring if not 100% accurate.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on July 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"In the beginning, when Human Beings came, there was only darkness. At that time a young woman was living with her father by the seashore. Once, when she was going to fetch some water, she saw a feather floating toward her from the sea. She opened her mouth and the feather floated in. She swallowed it and was with child. The child was born with a raven's beak... No one knows for certain whether the Raven created the first light, but all know that he loves the sun and that he steals it when he can."

Navarana is a young Inuit woman living in Greenland. After losing both of her parents to famine during the long cold winter that has taken over the land, she becomes a hunter and a shaman. Navarana's people, who call themselves the Human Beings, are hanging on by only a flickering flame of life as the endless winter wears on. Now Navarana's wings must touch the sun in order to end winter's awful grip on their land.

Brendan is a young Irish monk who came to Greenland to convert the "heathens." He is like a newborn babe in the Human Being's land, and Navarana wonders how this stranger will fit in after she saves him from starvation --- a decision she must justify to the Old One. Having taken the sow as her spirit guide when it gave its life so her people could have food, Navarana tells the Old One, "He has hair the same color as the sow's coat."

"Do you know what path you have chosen?" the Old One asks. "You've saved a life and you've set something in motion, something you alone can't control. You've no idea where this will lead you." And she, who always listened carefully to the Old One, turns a deaf ear to him.

Now she knows it was not common sense that led her to taking the stranger with her.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sam Adams on May 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is very good. I got it as a recommendation from my librarian and it was interesting. It reminds me of "Dogsong" by Gary Paulson. It has a great prt but is written in a style I am not used to and it was confusing for me. If you liked "Dogsong" give this book a look. (Hey! I rhymed!)
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