Singing Home the Whale by Mandy Hager (Random House)
Whenever a new Mandy Hager novel comes out I’m excited to read it – she never disappoints. I also know my heart and soul is going to connect with whatever topic she is going to explore in her story. Like her journalist brother Nicky Hager, Mandy is a deep thinker and believes in standing up for issues that affect her; each book tackles a different theme. In her latest Mandy has cleverly interlaced with an excellent story the relationship between a sensitive teenager called Will and Min, a young orphaned orca, with the plight of orca around the world.Will and Min tell their story in their own voice, every second chapter. Will is learning to trust again in a small town after an incident that has left him scarred. While out sailing he sings an operatic song and is so shocked when a dorsal fin glides past his yacht that he trips and falls overboard. Two lonely beings look into each eyes and connect; a bond so strong it lasts one of their lifetime. When Min’s life is threatened by a greedy businessman, Will fights to save Min. He cannot do it alone though – to be successful he needs the help of his whanau and more. Can he put his past behind him, and be strong enough for Min?
I highly recommend you read it to find out. Be warned that you’ll need tissues on hand; at times my eyes watered so much I could barely read the text. You’ll also thoroughly enjoy the beautiful lyrical language Min uses when telling his story. It’s stunning; with use of alliteration, imagery, metaphors – and it’ll have you bonding with the little orca too. I have to confess I was a little afraid of orca – I’d heard stories of them attacking humans and after all they do eat cute seals and penguins. But after reading a story written in the point of view of an orca (every second chapter) it has you falling deeply in love with them (or is that just me). However, I won’t be jumping off a boat to swim with them in a hurry – the message that they are wild creatures and give them space is tactfully given too.A great conservation story for High School students to read for enjoyment, as well as explore issues around endangered species and what one person (with the help of their whanau) can do to help them; it is also about: healing; acceptance; and being okay with who you are. Adults will thoroughly enjoy it too. If you like a little romance there's some of that as well ... An extraordinary tale that you will want to revisit again and again.
ISBN: 978-1-77553-657-4RRP $19.99 also available as an e-book
Reviewed by Maria Gill