Whale Song – a review

Time for another review and although some might class this novel as YA, it was much more.


Whale Song

by Cheryl Kaye Tardif 

A haunting story of love, tragedy, sacrifice and transformation that will change the way you view life…and death.

Thirteen years ago, Sarah Richardson’s life was shattered after the tragic assisted suicide of her mother. The shocking tragedy left a grief-stricken teen-aged Sarah with partial amnesia. Some things are easier to forget.

But now a familiar voice from her past sends Sarah, a talented mid-twenties ad exec, back to her past. A past that she had thought was long buried. Some things are meant to be buried.

Torn by nightmares and visions of a yellow-eyed wolf, yet aided by the creatures of the Earth and by the killer whales that call to her in the night, Sarah must face her fears and uncover the truth―even if it destroys her. Some things are meant to be remembered―at all cost.

This haunting tale of change and choice sensitively explores issues of the right to die, integrating the optimistic spiritualism of native myth and the hard realities of modern-day life.

This beautiful story, told in flashback, straddles the genres of mystery and family drama, and is set in the wilds of Canada — Vancouver Island, Victoria, Bamfield and Vancouver.

REVIEW *****

Although “Whale Song” is told in flashback, it never feels like that. Early on in my reading, I wrote that this was “a beautifully written coming-of-age novel and more”. The voice of Sarah Richardson grows with all the experiences that she faces and she reacts to events as anyone her age would, from bullying at school – a well-crafted case of reverse racism – to her first kiss, then the tragedy that rocks her life, the assisted suicide of her mother, and how that impacts on the years after her mother’s passing

Although my time spent on Vancouver Island was merely days, the author portrays a vivid picture of the place that is central to the novel. The descriptions are as evocative as her mother’s paintings, and the depiction of the Nootka indigenous people – or is that First People – was sensitive and colourful. I loved the characters of Goldie and her grandmother, as well as the role of the wolf, so integral to the plot, as integral as the captivating killer whales. The meaning of the book title makes total sense at the end.

This was a novel that I found hard to put down – but life intervenes, unfortunately. The theme of forgiveness resonates throughout the novel weaving into the different plots, from the bullying to the suicide. I might have been a victim of bullying but I empathised and understood this bully totally. Throughout the last few pages especially, I was weeping with joy and sadness. I was sad to reach the end, but I loved this so much I will read it again and recommend it totally.

The best book that I have read for ages.

2 thoughts on “Whale Song – a review

    • If you like whales – in this case, orcas or killer whales – they play a key role in this tale, although the narrator is the central part of this clever novel. Recommended as a moving read too.


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