Title: Written in Stone
Author: Rosanne Parry
Release date: June 25th 2013
Publisher: Random House Books
Genre: Middle Grade Historical
Pearl has always dreamed of hunting whales, just like her father. Of taking to the sea in their eight-man canoe, standing at the prow with a harpoon, and waiting for a whale to lift its barnacle-speckled head as it offers its life for the life of the tribe. But now that can never be. Pearl's father was lost on the last hunt, and the whales hide from the great steam-powered ships carrying harpoon cannons, which harvest not one but dozens of whales from the ocean. With the whales gone, Pearl's people, the Makah, struggle to survive as Pearl searches for ways to preserve their stories and skills.
I've never read anything like Written in Stone before, so I was surprised at how much I liked it! I've always liked historical fiction, so I loved reading about the Makah people and their culture. I've actually read a little bit about the Inuits, commonly known as Eskimos, and I found the whaling tradition of the Makah quite similar to the narwhal hunting of the Inuits. Written in Stone is such an inspiring story, and I seriously recommend this one for kids and adults alike.
This book is set in the 1920s, where Pearl is the only daughter of a famous whaler. When her father never returns one day after a hunt, Pearl realizes she's lost him forever like she lost her mother, and her life begins to change. We learn about the Makah tribe and the difficulties they face, as well as the determination of a girl willing to do anything to save her tribe and survive.
Pearl is an incredible protagonist. I empathized with her so easily, and I loved her strength and wisdom. She has just become an orphan, but she doesn't sit and mope around. She tries to do whatever she can to help her family survive. Learning to weave even though no one in her tribe can teach her, thwarting a fake art collector, saving her tribe's land, immortalizing her family's tradition... She does it all, though she's just a girl. Since this book is set in the 1920s, there is of course a lot of gender discrimination. But Pearl transcends that, and I find that really amazing.
This book is basically a flashback from Pearl when she's a grandmother, and the prologue and epilogue are set in present time, which is 1999. The epilogue is one of the best I've ever come across! Olden tradition blended beautifully with that of modern time, and it almost brought tears to my eyes. Also, the author's note at the end of the book is really important to read if you love history and culture. Rosanne Parry explains most of the Makah traditions, and I really enjoyed reading all of that. It puts the book into context better, and you get a better sense of Pearl's lifestyle and environment. All in all, this is an amazing historical novel, and it definitely got me interested in more books like this! I'd love to find out more about other tribes and how they're faring in the present.
*Thank you to Rosanne Parry and Random House for providing an ARC for review*