Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Review: The Whaler's Daughter by Jerry Mikoranda


by Jerry Mikoranda
Fitzroy Books
Middle Grade Historical
264 pages
ages 8 to 12

In 1910, twelve-year-old Savannah lives with her widowed father on a whaling station in New South Wales, Australia. For generations, the Dawson family has carried on a very unusual way of life there. They use orcas to help them hunt whales. But Savannah believes the orcas hunted something else—her older brothers, who died mysteriously while fishing. Haunted by their deaths, Savannah wants to become a whaler to prove to her father that she’s good enough to carry on the family legacy and avenge her slain brothers. Meeting an aboriginal boy, Figgie, changes that. Figgie helps Savannah to hone her whaling skills and teaches her about the Law of the Bay. When she is finally able to join the crew, Savannah learns just how dangerous the whole business is. A whale destroys her boat and Savannah sinks into the shark-infested waters. That’s when the mysterious spirit orca Jungay returns to rescue her, and she vows to protect the creatures. That vow tests her mettle when the rapacious owner of a fishing fleet captures the orca pod and plans to slaughter them.



I love historical reads, which hit upon often overlooked or ignored events, bring them to life, and then, leave the reader with more than a little food for thought. And this book does just that.

Savannah is the daughter of one of the most respected whale hunter families in the area, and she dreams of joining her family legacy on the ocean's waters, especially with her two older brothers now gone. But women aren't seen as whalers, and she's destined to end up married to some boy in town. Refusing to give in to fate, she strengthens her hunting skills and joins a crew...but things don't go as she expects.

The author has done an amazing job at bringing this time frame, the characters and the theme to vivid life. Savannah is a headstrong young girl, who carries spunk, heart and determination. It's hard not to root for her, even though her desire to hunt whales goes against modern thinking. But it's exactly this, which makes this such a well done read. The author shows Savannah life, ideologies, and those of her family and displays the sense and logic behind it, according to that time. And then, the author lets Savannah grow. She pushes the borders and steps beyond, discovering so much about herself and the world around her. And that comes with a price. So, this one doesn't only address environmental issues and explores the history behind whaling, but it also displays the fight Savannah has as a young girl, trying to achieve an impossible dream. 

The read, however, is also simply an exciting tale. The characters are realistic, raw, and easy to like or hate. Each page grabs as Savannah does her best to achieve her goals, and later, fights to deal with situations she didn't expect...and may not survive. There are unexpected twists and turns, and the reader is held in the pages until the very end. Here, the book leaves off with a different type of which guarantees plenty of food for thought. 

In other words, this is a book worth picking up and taking a look at.

1 comment:

Heather N. Quinn said...

Wow! Will definitely be reading this one. Thanks, so much for the review.