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by Virginia Frances Schwartz

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Initiation is published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside.

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Initiation is published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside.

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.
From the Publisher
"...a dramatic, compelling story with appealing characters."

HI-RISE newspaper

"The novel is based on a Kwakiutl transformation myth which centered on the belief that, when the salmon were scarce, a warrior could call them back by diving into the water and turning into a salmon. Well researched, the novel transmits a powerful sense of ancient native culture and values and an understanding of aboriginal life before European contact. The award-winning author of If I Just Had Two Wings, Virginia Frances Schwartz evokes a strong reverence for the natural world and makes a plea for conservation to save the endangered migrating salmon. Young readers will relate to the challenges of the three remarkable protagonists on the threshold of maturity who question the traditional roles their society expected them to fulfill."

CM Magazine

"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."

School Library Journal

"At its best Schwartz's prose is lyrical, concrete and sensual in a way that evokes the salty, watery life of B.C.'s coast and conveys vividly the longings of her characters...plays beautifully with the metaphor of female transformation, of a freedom that comes through joining the animal world...there's something potent and haunting about this imagining."

The Toronto Star

"Beautiful language and a strong sense of place and history combine to make Initiation a vivid and memorable book. Grounded in pre-contact Kwakiutl culture, this powerful novel centres on three young people whose passage into adulthood will change the fate of their tribes. Virginia Frances Schwartz has crafted a superb fantasy novel, resonant with the strength of myth and timeless in its examination of the human heart."

Sunburst Award jury

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Product Details

Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
55.00(w) x 80.00(h) x 7.50(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

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