I was captured by Cheryl Kaye Tardif’s emotional tale, “Whale Song” the moment the Nootka elder gave Sarah her Indian name: Hai Nai Yu―The Wise One of the One Who Knows.
This is an adolescent story with two very obvious differences. Firstly, although it’s about a young girl growing up, it is narrated from an adult’s point of view. And secondly, although it is brimming with the wisdom that comes only with age, the story is written for a child.
It’s an ageless story, though, and appeals to readers across generations. Whale Song teaches us not only about the traditions and lore of Canada’s west coast Indians, but also about ourselves—about the children we once were and the wise elders we are destined to become.
Cheryl so capably captures the essence of the aboriginal oral tradition of story-telling. There are those who say kids don’t take to tales designed to instil life lessons. Yet cultures across the world know otherwise. The best way to pass wisdom from generation to generation is to wrap it in a good story.
I remember interviewing a Cree elder during my days as a journalist. I was confounded by the woman’s simplistic sentence structures (after all, she had a university doctorate), the abundant seemingly-unrelated details in her answers, her slow speech, the antiquated clichés.
An hour in and I was becoming increasingly embarrassed by both my impatience and the patience of the orator. About then I realized I ought to relax into Dr. Makokis' compelling story and quit interrupting. I was speaking too loudly, talking too quickly, and begging for short answers that would fit nicely into a column inch.
Whale Song is narrated in a similar manner to this honourable tradition of oral story-telling.
It seems to ramble and take its time as all great lessons do. (Why do I need to know how Sarah’s parents met all those years ago and that Sarah’s birth was preceded by a miscarriage?).
It contains multitudinous details that at first glance seem irrelevant but are really symbolic. (What pre-teen kid notices “...a cedar shelf was mounted to the peach-coloured wall...the walls were painted the palest sage green and along the ceiling edge ran a soft leafy border...”?)
And then there are the clichés. (“I froze, dead in my tracks...the bustling city of San Francisco...the wide-open plains...A sharp crack of thunder...From that moment on, we were inseparable...I raced downstairs...my stomach twisted into tight knots...”)
These clichés, though, are the vessels of traditional knowledge and lore—the keepers of truths. Because clichés say it best, these phrases stay with us from generation to generation.
Although it may be challenging to find the time to traverse the strange loops and twists that eventually lead to the truth, I have no doubt that we ought to make the time. We also ought to teach our children to have the patience for wisdom.
The young and the young at heart will savour Whale Song’s slow and thoughtful use of words. They’ll enjoy how the story circles back into itself and will find comfort in the rhythmic placement of familiar ancient phrases.
Whatever state of mind we’re in when we first open the book, it doesn’t take long to be lured into Sarah’s painful and courageous journey. We soon feel compelled to discover how 11-year-old Sarah evolves into Hai Nai Yu―The Wise One of the One Who Knows.
Cheryl Kaye Tardif, your words made me weep. Whale Song.
A word from Cheryl:
Whale Song is what I call "my heart book". There is so much of me in Sarah, but the novel is not biographical. I am emotionally invested in this novel, like no other, probably because it was my first novel and definitely because of the story itself. Whale Song was inspired by my love for killer whales and the ocean. I'm a BC girl living in Alberta now, and the call of the ocean is always strong.
Whale Song is available in ebook edition and can be purchased in various formats via Amazon's Kindle Store, KoboBooks, Smashwords and more. It is out of print as a trade paperback, however it will be back in print in a few months with bonus content.
I've recently detoured from suspense and YA to romantic suspense with my new release Lancelot's Lady (Sept. 27th), and I invite you to check it out along with my other books--Skeletons in the Closet & Other Creepy Stories, The River, Divine Intervention and Remote Control. ~ CKT
You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady and Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif) at http://www.cherishdangelo.com and http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com.
Prizes & Giveaways: Follow Cherish from September 27 to October 10 on her Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour and win prizes.
Leave a comment here with your email address and you will receive a free ebook and automatically be entered into Cheryl’s draws for other great prizes including a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.
Eileen Schuh,Canadian writerhttp://www.eileenschuh.com/