During a summer spent in the Artic, 12-year-old Talia McQuinn experiences the healing power of place and of stories.
Awash in loneliness and grief following her mother’s death, Talia is uprooted to Churchill, Manitoba, for three months while her father does whale research. Already feeling a brokenness and a “Mom-sized space" between her father and herself, she stays with an Inuit woman while her father is gone for weeks awaiting the ice-out and the belugas’ arrival. Talia’s memories center on the stories her mother loved and shared; they help her feel whole. She keeps a jar of wishes scrawled on paper. The first is, “I wish there was no more cancer." Slowly, with the help of a few new friends, a budding romance and the gift of stories, Talia emerges from her despair to a realization that while big wishes may not come true, small wishes are happening all around her. She finds forgiveness and rediscovers hope. Debut author Hautala’s writing in this first-person narrative is lyrical and evocative; her descriptions of the landscape are vivid. Talia, who knows much about being left and leaving, describes it thus: “[w]atching things slip away from you until your insides ache and everything feels backwards."
Written by an author to watch, this quiet story of loss and healing will appeal to thoughtful readers. (Fiction. 10-14)