A STRANGER CALLS ME HOME by Deborah Savage

A STRANGER CALLS ME HOME

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author of Flight of the Albatross (1989) returns to New Zealand for another tale contrasting Anglo and Maori ways and involving young people seeking self-definition. Paul, after four years in America and contact with an activist uncle who once marched with Martin Luther King, is already observing racial divisions in New Zealand with a disenchanted eye when he strikes up a friendship with Simon--who was raised by his white mother and adoptive father but has just realized that strangers see him as Maori, like his birth father. The two go to a seaside area where they meet Fiona, Paul's second cousin, still living on land their ancestor wrested from the Maoris, and also her Maori friends--who, it turns out, still hope to regain the land where Fiona dreams of training horses: it is their tapu burial ground. Meanwhile, Simon begins to realize that his father's origins were also here, and both boys are attracted to the brittle, driven Fiona. In addition to this incompletely developed triangle and the mystery concerning Simon's father, there's a fair amount of melodrama to hold interest here, culminating in a fire that helps resolve both the land question and an old trauma troubling Fiona. At times, it all seems a bit overblown; yet Savage writes vividly and smoothly, entwining her themes with care and intelligence while alternating among her protagonists' points of view. An entertaining story with some depth.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin