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Pearl, 13, is determined to create a future for herself that honors her distinguished heritage; still, her extended family’s unaccustomed financial hardship and loss of status stings. The New York collector interested in their masks and carvings might offer a way out, but does he have a secret agenda? Pearl’s loving extended family supports her (the Makah have no word for orphan), but her mother’s skill at weaving and the dances and teachings she’d have given Pearl are gone forever. For guidance, Pearl turns to independent Aunt Susi, who drives a car and works for the post office, and her grandmother, who encourages Pearl’s talent for language. “When you write a word down, you own that word forever,” she says. However, becoming an adult is fundamentally a solitary journey; shipwrecked on a wild beach, Pearl begins hers. Stubborn, determined and resourceful, she’s good company. Parry, who taught school on the Quinault Indian reservation (neighbors of the Makah), writes with respect and affection for the people of the Washington coast, suggesting without didacticism what their right to hunt whales means to the Makah people.
This vivid, character-driven historical novel captivates." —Kirkus Reviews
"Realistic and insightful, Parry’s novel succeeds in depicting a picture of one girl’s experience to preserve her people’s dignity and values in a rapidly changing modern world." —School Library Journal
"Parry shows respect and restraint in bringing their traditional ways of life to the page. Skillfully using dialogue and sensory details to portray people and places, she creates a strong sense of Pearl’s individuality and of her people’s struggle." —Booklist
"Parry successfully melds Pearl’s quieter coming-of-age story with a faster-paced mystery plot concerning the true agenda of “art collector” Arthur Glen and the efforts of the Makah teens to thwart his predatory activities. Framing chapters focused on Pearl in her old age assure readers that the tribal knowledge and customs are endangered but not extinct, and closing notes address historical background and respect for maintaining the secrecy of certain stories and rituals." —The Bulletin
"While unveiling a dark corner of history during a period when imperialism and the exploitation of Native Americans ran rampant, Parry, a former teacher at a Quinault reservation, beautifully conveys universal and historical themes. Readers will relate to Pearl’s internal conflicts as she rebels against traditional women’s roles yet clings to what she knows and loves." —Publishers Weekly