The copy I have of this book is a gift from one of my best friends, who purchased a used copy because he knows that I have a soft spot for books that have lived a life before coming into my possession.
It’s worth noting, before even diving into this review (see what I did there?), that the language used in this book is poetically descriptive and sets a beautiful landscape for our story. I love that each part of the book was separated by an update of the whales and what they were up to. It was a nice parallel between what was happening on shore.
The Whale Rider is a beautiful story that looks at the intersection of tradition and change. More specifically Ihimaera focuses on this idea that change does not mean the dying of tradition, but rather the strengthening of it for future generations. Kahu spends her days wanting to learn more about her culture, despite the idea that only men can carry on the tradition. When it comes time for the day to be saved, Men are called into action but are unable to make a difference on their own. Kahu, in her white dress and ribbons, finds herself knowing what to do and dives into the water to become a whale rider.
Kahu’s potential sacrifice marked a turning point for the “elders” of her tribe and the whales. As her Paka came to the realization that she was the leader he was looking for and the whale came to the realization that his original rider had moved on, Kahu risked her life to save both. Each, in turn, realizing how special the child is and how they had been living in the past.
I found myself becoming lost in this story and could hear the waves crash upon the shore. Though this was a quick read, I didn’t find myself longing for more story or more detail. The pacing of the tale and Ihimaera’s ability to put me into the story as if I was sitting in the room with the narrator, Kahu’s Uncle, listening to him tell me a story about his niece and why she is special.
It is unclear, at this time, if I will sacrifice the images I’ve created of the people I have experienced by watching the movie. A part of me fears that adaptation will miss some of the nuances that I have come to love.
For January’s book club, we’ll be stepping back into historical fiction with the Australian novel Picnic at Hanging Rock. While I don’t typically read a lot of historical fiction, I stumbled upon this title while looking for something to watch on Amazon Prime and was taken aback by the trailer. This book, I believe, will be the gothic horror that I was hoping to find in November’s book club.
It was a cloudless summer day in the year nineteen hundred.
Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three of the girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of Hanging Rock. Further, higher, till at last they disappeared.
They never returned.
Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction the reader must decide for themselves.