From School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Parry blends Native American folklore and culture with historical fiction to portray a 13-year-old girl who tries to remain true to the ways of her Makah tribe. Pearl's mother and baby sister died in the flu pandemic of 1918; five years later, her father loses his life on a whaling expedition, leaving her an orphan. She strives for ways to make a sustainable living while preserving her Pacific Northwest tribe's traditional practices of working with the land and its resources. Pearl's dream of becoming a whaler like her father is unrealistic, both because women are not allowed to hunt whales and because the whale population is rapidly diminishing. When an art collector approaches the tribe to purchase cultural artifacts for a museum, Pearl is suspicious. She uncovers his true agenda: he wants to tap the community's natural energy resources to the detriment of her people's livelihood. Realistic and insightful, Parry's novel succeeds in depicting a picture of one girl's experience to preserve her people's dignity and values in a rapidly changing modern world.-Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MIα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In a brief framework story set in 1999 in northwest Washington State, an elderly Makah Indian named Pearl walks toward the ocean, singing a song remembered from her childhood to welcome the whale brought home after a traditional hunt. The time shifts to 1923, when 13-year-old Pearl learns that her father was lost at sea during a whale hunt. She finds strength and comfort in her extended family and their traditions, while recognizing that the world around them is encroaching on their way on life. Meanwhile, a supposed art collector attempts to trick Pearl’s elders into signing away valuable mineral rights. While struggling with grief, Pearl begins to discover her strengths and how she can use them for the good of her people. Parry, who once taught Makah and Quinault students, shows respect and restraint in bringing their traditional ways of life to the page. Skillfully using dialogue and sensory details to portray people and places, she creates a strong sense of Pearl’s individuality and of her people’s struggle. An informative author’s note is appended. Grades 4-7. --Carolyn Phelan