( 1 )


I am prey, caught in a spider's web. Every time the spider creeps, he makes me whirl around and around. My life is spinning without me. I cling to the web with my hands and feet.

I look for a place to leap.

Nana's future is certain, and she dreads it. Daughter of a proud Kwakiutl chief, she will become a weaver, marry the son of a chief from another tribe, and leave her beloved home forever. Nanolatch, ...

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I am prey, caught in a spider's web. Every time the spider creeps, he makes me whirl around and around. My life is spinning without me. I cling to the web with my hands and feet.

I look for a place to leap.

Nana's future is certain, and she dreads it. Daughter of a proud Kwakiutl chief, she will become a weaver, marry the son of a chief from another tribe, and leave her beloved home forever. Nanolatch, Nana's twin brother, will be chief one day, and he welcomes it. He will be a warrior and a strong leader, just like his father. Together, the twins will enter their initiation to adulthood, and fulfill the roles that have been determined for them since the day they were born.

But when the chief leads a warring party to destroy another tribe's village and capture a slave, the fortunes of the Kwakiutl tribe begin to turn. Convinced that they must make amends, the chief casts about for a way to undo the curse that has descended on their people.

The young slave, Noh, has been mute since the day she was torn from her village. Daughter of a shaman, she has already seen visions of the twins. Only gradually does she understand that her own emergence as a shaman is inextricably linked with the twins and their approaching initiation. Through her sympathy for Nana and her growing love for Nanolatch, she understands that she must help them fulfill their true destiny. But can she save them, knowing that it will take a terrible sacrifice to restore them all to their rightful place?

Set on the West Coast of North America during the fifteenth century, Initiation is a powerfulstory of a proud tribe, the Spirit World that guides them, and the universal struggle of three extraordinary young people on the brink of adulthood.

Cover design and vignettes by Paul Morin.

Awards and Nominations:

  • Winner of the Silver Birch Award
  • Winner of the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction
  • UNESCO International Youth Library - White Raven Award special mention, 2004
  • Shortlist for the 2004 Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award
  • 2005 Snow Willow Award Nominee
  • Shortlisted for the 2004 Sunburst Award
  • Kiriyama Prize Notable
  • Red Cedar Award shortlist
  • Stellar Award nominee
  • Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award Nominee 2005
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A story set on the West Coast in the 1440s. In the Kwakiutl Indians' lives, the elite in the community are segregated from the ordinary folk and are aware of their responsibility to lead at a young age. Twins Nana and Nanolatch alternate in telling the story with Noh, a Salish girl who was taken captive during a murderous raid on her village and given to Nana as a slave and companion. Full of mysticism and spiritual awareness, the twins are approaching the time of their initiation as full adults. Nana suffers from being assigned to female tasks, and Nanolatch worries that he won't be able to live up to the expectations of manly prowess and expertise. The fear of starvation and the awareness of the salmon as provider of winter food are present throughout and are the core of the plot. Grounded in the myths and legends of the Northwest Indians, Schwartz's story contains lots of details of daily life infused with reverence for the natural world. The sacrifice required at the end fits the logic of the story, although Noh's gradual support and compliance is less believable. Compared to Marc Talbert's Heart of a Jaguar (S & S, 1995), this novel is less accessible, which results in a lowered emotional impact and greater distance. Still, there is so little available for readers interested in seeing the world from the perspective of Native peoples before Columbus that where curriculum dictates, it may prove useful.-Carol A. Edwards, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550050530
  • Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/13/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 268
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Virginia Frances Schwartz is the author of three historical novels, including Messenger and Send One Angel Down, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and winner of a Parent's Choice Gold Award. Born in Ontario, Canada, Virginia now lives in New York City, where she teaches writing to elementary school children.

Paul Morin, an accomplished painter, sculptor and musician is also the illustrator of a number of children's books. He has also received 25 international awards for his book illustrations. In addition, Paul has won many accolades for his work, including ten awards from the Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators, and a nomination for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Mr. Morin now lives near Rockwood, Ontario.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very Good

    I'm not gonna lie. This book was so good and so deep that it confused the hell outta me.

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