Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Written in Stone

Written in Stone
by Rosanne Parry
Random House, 2013. 196 pgs. Fiction

     Pearl, a young Makah Indian girl living in the 1920s Pacific Northwest, has lost her mother and baby sister to the 1918 influenza epidemic. Her father is a harpooner for their village, which relies on whale meat and oil to live through the year. On the day Pearl is assigned to watch for the returning whalers, the ship returns--without a whale, and without her father who was pulled into the ocean and drowned. Pearl's remaining family and friends rally around her, but she still feels lost, not only missing her parents, but trying to find her place in the world. She is not a good basket weaver, would like to weave blankets but has no one to teach her the skills, with her mother gone.  Finally, when the tribe is threatened by their loss of income, and by a money-grubbing outsider, Pearl finds her place as a teller of stories, who preserves the art and lore of her people. Told in retrospect when Pearl has become an honored tribal elder, Written in Stone, is a fascinating, tender, totally respectful story of the Pacific Coast Indians, not to be missed.

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