Whale Song

Whale Song

4.8 26
by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

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In Cheryl Kaye Tardif's heart-wrenching Whale Song, haunting native legends merge with the modern world as two cultures collide, and a young woman struggles with long-forgotten memories of her mother's suicide.
Thirteen years ago, Sarah Richardson's life was shattered when her mother committed suicide. The shocking tragedy left a grief-stricken teen-aged…  See more details below


In Cheryl Kaye Tardif's heart-wrenching Whale Song, haunting native legends merge with the modern world as two cultures collide, and a young woman struggles with long-forgotten memories of her mother's suicide.
Thirteen years ago, Sarah Richardson's life was shattered when her mother committed suicide. The shocking tragedy left a grief-stricken teen-aged Sarah with partial amnesia. Some things are easier to forget.
But now a familiar voice from her past sends Sarah, a talented mid-twenties ad exec, back to her past. A past that she had thought was long buried. Some things are meant to be buried.
Torn by nightmares and visions of a yellow-eyed wolf, yet aided by the creatures of the Earth and by the killer whales that call to her in the night, Sarah must face her fears and uncover the truth--even if it destroys her. Some things are meant to be remembered--at all cost.

From the Author
This is my 'heart book'--a story with meaning and impact. I hope you love reading it as much as I loved writing it! ~CKT

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Editorial Reviews

"A wonderfully well-written story...wonderful characters...exquisitely described...would make a wonderful movie."
--(Writer's Digest)
Writer's Digest
A wonderfully well-written story...wonderful characters...exquisitely described...would make a wonderful movie.
The Edmonton Examiner
A wise, enchanting story...
Fresh Fiction
A tough act to follow for any written genre.

Product Details

Kunati Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.52(d)

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By Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Kunati Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Cheryl Kaye Tardif
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-60164-007-9

Chapter One

IN THE SUMMER of 1977, my parents and I moved from our rambling ranch home in Wyoming to Vancouver Island, Canada. My father had been offered a position with Sea Corp, a company devoted to studying marine life. He would no longer be a marine biology professor at the university. Instead, he'd be studying killer whales and recording their vocalization.

My mother was ecstatic about the move. She couldn't wait to return to Canada where her parents were living. She chatted nonstop about all the new things we would see and do.

But I was miserable. I didn't want to move.

"You'll make new friends, Sarah," my parents told me.

But I, like most eleven-year-old girls, hated them for making me leave the friends I already had.

Since our new home was fully furnished, we were leaving almost everything behind. A few personal belongings, my mother's art supplies and some household items would follow in a small moving van.

My father told us he had rented out our ranch to a nice elderly couple. I was quite happy that no children were going to be living in my bedroom, but I was miserable about leaving behind my prized possessions. I reluctantly said goodbye to my little bed, my Bay City Rollers wall posters, my bookshelf of Nancy Drew mysteries, my mismatched dresser and my swimming trophies. Then I sulked on the edge of thebed and watched my mother sift through my things.

"I know it's hard," she said, catching my sullen mood. "Think of this as an adventure."

I let out an angry huff and flopped onto my back.

"I don't want an adventure."

THE FOLLOWING MORNING, we left Wyoming with my three-speed bike strapped to the roof of the car and our suitcases and my mother's easel piled in the trunk. That night, I watched TV in a motel room while my parents talked about our new home in Canada.

"Time for bed, Sarah," my father said after a while. "We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow."

Unable to sleep, I tossed restlessly in the bed and stared at the ceiling, wondering what life would be like stuck on a tiny island.

How boring it's going to be.

I thought of Amber-Lynn MacDonald, my best friend back in Wyoming. She was probably crying her eyes out, missing me. Who was I going to tell all my secrets to now?

I swallowed hard, fighting back the tears.

Life is so unfair.

Little did I know just how unfair life could be.

IT FELT LIKE days later when we finally arrived in Vancouver. We drove to the ferry terminal and waited in a long lineup of vehicles. We boarded the ferry and I rushed to the upper deck where I stood against the rails and watched the mainland disappear. The water was choppy and the ferry swayed side to side. When we saw Vancouver Island approaching, dismal gray clouds greeted us and I instantly missed the scorching dry heat of Wyoming.

The drive from the ferry terminal to our new house took hours and seemed relentlessly slow. After a while, we veered off the highway and headed along the main road to Bamfield. The narrow unpaved road was bumpy and pitted. It was swallowed up by massive, intimidating logging trucks that blasted their horns at us.

I watched them roll precariously close while my father steered our car until it hugged the side of the road. I held my breath, waiting for the huge bands that secured the logs to snap and release the lumber onto our car. And I was sure that we'd topple over into the ditch or onto the rocks below.

I released a long impatient breath.

"Where's the ocean?"

"You just saw it," my father chuckled. "From the ferry."

"No, I mean the ocean ocean," I muttered. "That was just like a big lake. I want to see the real ocean, where it stretches out for miles and you can't see the end of it."

My mother turned and smiled. "You just wait. You'll see it soon enough."

I settled into the back seat with my latest Nancy Drew book and tried to read. But my eyes kept wandering to the window. When we hit a huge pothole, my book dropped to the car floor. It stayed there for the remainder of the trip.

I pushed my face against the window and watched the scenery streak past. The forest that surrounded us was enormous and forbidding. Moss hung eerily from damp branches and a fog danced around the tree trunks.

Then the sun broke out from behind a cloud, free at last from its dark imprisonment. It quickly heated up the interior of the car. Unfortunately, the gravel road kicked up so much dust that I wasn't allowed to roll down the window. And since we didn't have air conditioning, my hair-my Italian mane as my mother called it-hung limply to my waist and my bangs stuck to my forehead.

I scowled. We'd been driving for days and I was tired of being cooped up in the car.

"Close your eyes, Sarah," my father said, interrupting my thoughts. "And don't open them till I say."

I obeyed and held my breath in anticipation.

I'm finally going to see the ocean.

Minutes ticked by and I grew restless. Being a typical eleven-year-old, I had to sneak a peek.

"Okay, now you can look," my father said.

He chuckled when he caught me with my eyes already open.

Pushing my damp bangs aside, I scrunched my face up close to the window. The ocean was spread out before me, interrupted only by a tiny island here and there. The water's surface was choppy with whitecaps and it looked dark and mysterious.

I smiled, satisfied.

Back in Wyoming, we saw endless stretches of green hills and grass with mountains rising in the distance. That was all I'd ever known. I could go horseback riding and never see water bigger than our duck pond. Now before me, the ocean seemed to go on endlessly.

I couldn't resist rolling down the window. As soon as I did, I heard waves crashing along the shoreline.

"Well, what do you think?" my father asked. "This road winds all along the shore. Every now and then, you'll be able to see the ocean. And once we reach Bamfield, our house is just east of town, right on the water."

He reached over and tugged at a piece of my mother's long auburn hair. I laughed when she swatted his hand.

"The house will be ours for the next three years," my mother said over her shoulder. "It belongs to an older couple, so we'll have to take very good care of it."

Twenty minutes later, we passed a sign. Welcome to Bamfield.

I breathed a sigh of relief. We were almost there.

As we drove unnoticed through the modest town, I realized that it was much smaller than Buffalo, the town nearest our ranch in Wyoming. After stopping at Myrtle's Restaurant & Grill for a delicious supper of deep-fried halibut and greasy home-style French fries, we clambered back into the car and headed for our new home.

"The house is just up ahead," my father said. "I know you're going to love it, Dani."

He gave my mother a long, tender look.

MY MOTHER, Daniella Andria Rossetti, was born and raised in San Diego, California. Her parents were immigrants from Italy who had moved to the United States after World War II.

When she was eighteen, her parents moved again, this time to Vancouver, Canada. My mother took advantage of the move, left home and struck out for Hollywood with hopes of becoming a famous actress. After numerous rejections and insulting offers from sleazy directors, she gave up her stalled acting career and studied art and oil painting instead. Within a few months, her work was shown at Visions, a popular art gallery in San Francisco.

It was there that she met my father.

Jack Richardson was a Canadian marine biology student who had wandered in off the street after being caught in a tempestuous downpour of rain. Six months later, my mother moved in with him, much to her parents' disapproval. Four months went by and they were married in a small church with a few friends and family present.

During the next three years, my parents tried to have a child. They had almost given up hope when they discovered that my mother was pregnant. Six months into a perfect pregnancy, she miscarried. My parents were devastated.

Eight months later, my father's stepfather and mother were killed in a car accident. During the reading of the will, my father discovered that he had inherited the family ranch in Wyoming.

But my mother was upset. She didn't want to leave the bustling city of San Francisco for the wide-open plains near Buffalo. When the curator of Visions, Simon McAllister, promised that she could courier her paintings to the gallery, my mother agreed to the move.

After a year on the ranch, she couldn't imagine living anywhere else. Her work thrived, reflecting images of country living, meadows and mountains. Then she was rewarded with unbelievable news. She was pregnant again.

Nine months plus a week later, Sarah Maria Richardson weighed in at eight pounds, four ounces. At three months old, I had thick black hair and dark brown eyes. My parents doted on me.

When I was about six, my mother told me how handsome my father had looked the moment she first saw him in the art gallery. Even though he was shivering and drenched, he had stared at one of her paintings for the longest time.

My mother had fallen in love with him that instant.

It sounded like a fairytale to me, but I believed that my parents loved each other and that they would be together.


NOW, YEARS LATER, we were driving along the rustic coast of Vancouver Island, anticipating the first glimpse of our new home. I felt restless and uneasy. I somehow knew that my life would change the second we drove into those trees.

Destiny ... or fate?

As the sun began to set overhead, we reached a small, barely legible sign that read 231 Bayview Lane. A gravel driveway curved and disappeared into the trees. When the car followed it, we were plunged into darkness. Branches reached out to the car roof, caressing it like a thousand hungry fingers.

The tall cedar trees that surrounded the car opened to reveal a lush lawn carefully landscaped with small shrubs. At the end of the gravel driveway, a two-story cedar house stood just beyond the lawn. The shingles of the roof gleamed in the reddening sunlight. The main door into the house was solid wood with no window. In fact, there were only three small windows on that entire side of the house.

Our new home seemed forlorn, empty.

"Well, not much to look at from here," my mother mumbled. "But I'm sure it's much nicer inside. We could always punch out a window or two."

My father grinned. "Dani, my love, looks can be deceiving. Just wait until you see inside."

When he pulled the car onto a cement pad, my mother smirked. "The garage?" she asked sarcastically.

"You're so funny," he said, unfolding himself from the driver's seat.

I clambered out, impatient to get inside and explore. Reaching for his hand, I tugged on it and pulled him toward the house while my mother followed behind.

At the door, we turned back and caught sight of her pale face.

"Are you okay?" my father asked.

"I'm just a bit carsick," she said with a wry smile. "You two go in first, let me get some fresh air. I'll be in shortly."

"If you're-"

She laughed. "Go inside, Jack. I'm okay."

With a shrug, my father unlocked the door and gave it a gentle nudge. Then he turned to me, his mouth widening into the biggest smile I had ever seen.

"Welcome to your new home, Sarah," he said.

I let go of his hand and eagerly stepped inside, a thrill of excitement racing through me. "I want to see my roo-"

I froze, dead in my tracks.

Chapter Two

IT WAS THE dazzling light that hit us first.

Large picture windows wrapped the entire front of the house and faced the ocean. The flaming sunset outside made the interior glow like the embers of a fire.

"Wow," I murmured.

My eyes swept across the open main floor. There was a living room to my left. It was decorated in bronze and copper tones, and two beige plaid couches framed a chocolate-brown area rug. To my right, a dining room table and four chairs claimed the area in front of one of the windows.

I ran to it, almost knocking over a potted plant. I looked out the window and stared, mesmerized, as the setting sun sparkled on the bay.

"I can hear the ocean, Dad."

The door behind us opened and my mother joined us, her face instantly lighting up. "It's beautiful, Jack."

"It's private too," my father said. "The nearest neighbor is about a fifteen-minute walk down the beach." He teasingly ruffled my hair. "Hey, do you want to check out the rest of the house?"

"Do I ever," I said, my eyes wide with anticipation.

He led me to a large closet by the back door. "This is the closet." His voice was serious, as if he were a realtor showing me a potential property.

I laughed. "No kidding, Dad."

I took off my jacket and hung it in the empty space. That was my first claim on my new home.

"Over here is the living room," my father said with a sweep of one hand.

I pointed to a large black monstrosity. "What is that thing?"

My mother stifled a gasp. "A wood-burning stove. How charming. I love it, Jack." She spun on her heel slowly and surveyed the room. "You were right about this house. It's perfect for us."

I agreed. The house was far better than I had expected.

I walked closer to the stove.

Over it, a cedar shelf was mounted to the peach-colored wall. On it was a peculiar collection of oddities-an eagle's feather, a fisherman's glass ball wrapped with twine, a skull from a small animal and a crab shell.

I looked up and gasped. "Mom! That's your painting."

The large watercolor that hung above the shelf was the one my mother had painted while she was pregnant with me. It was of a mountain waterfall and was her very favorite. Mine too.

"I sent it on ahead so it would be here when we arrived," my father explained. "I asked the caretaker to hang it. He also made sure we have lots of firewood. And he turned the electricity back on."

"Let's check out the kitchen," my mother said, rubbing her hands gleefully.

A spacious country kitchen with a wooden island was tucked around the corner, barely visible. The walls were painted the palest sage green and along the ceiling edge ran a soft leafy border. A small round table and two chairs sat in one corner.

My mother busied herself by checking out the fully stocked cupboards and making a pot of tea while I continued my exploration of the lower level of the house. Between the kitchen and dining room area, a wrought iron staircase led to the upper floor. Behind the stairs, a sliding glass door opened onto a cedar deck.

"Can I go out there?" I asked my father.

He smiled. "Of course. It's your house now."

We stepped outside and the humid night air enveloped us.

"Hey," I shouted. "A swinging chair."

The deck held a padded swing, big enough for three people. There was also a barbecue and a picnic table with two benches. A protective wooden rail ran around the entire deck, with an opening for the stairs that led to the ground below.

I leaned over the rail.

A well-trodden rocky path led from the bottom of the stairs, through the grass and down to the beach. From the deck, I saw waves crashing on the fiery shore. Better yet, I heard them. I breathed in the salty air, thrilled with my new home.

Then I turned and darted inside, urging my father to follow.

"Come on, Dad," I yelled. "I want to see my room."

He smiled and remained where he was. "You two go ahead."

Grabbing my mother's hand, I raced up the spiral staircase to the upper floor. Under my pounding feet, the stairs groaned with a dull clang. I turned down the hall and entered the first room on the right.

The room was tiny, like a baby's nursery. But there was no crib. There wasn't even a bed. The walls were painted off-white, but looked like they had definitely seen better days. Small tables, old toys and cardboard boxes littered the floor. A rocking chair sat motionless near a large window and an antique bookshelf took up one wall. Dusty encyclopedias and ancient books inhabited the shelves.

I drew a heart in the dust.

"This room needs a good cleaning," my mother muttered.

I yanked back my hand and eyed her suspiciously. I was positive that she had plans for me, plans that included a dust rag in one hand and lemon furniture polish in the other.

"This'll be my studio," she said, eying the room.

I barged past her out into the hall. "I want to see my room."

The next room I entered boasted a large brass bed with down-filled pillows and a flowered quilt. Along the side walls stood two white colonial dressers, one with a large oval mirror. The other wall had a cedar bench seat built into a bay window that faced the ocean.


Excerpted from WHALE Song by Cheryl Kaye Tardif Copyright © 2007 by Cheryl Kaye Tardif. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

Luanne Rice
"Deep and true, a compelling story of love and family and the mysteries of the human heart. Cheryl Kaye Tardif has written a beautiful, haunting novel."--(Luanne Rice, author, Beach Girls and What Matters Most)
Ian Anthony
...author of Hunter's Moon "Poignant and compelling..."

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