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Alia Waking

Alia Waking

5.0 3
by Laura Williams McCaffrey

Alia wants nothing more than to be selected as a keenten, a warrior woman. Her friend Kay, strong and fierce, is sure to be chosen, but Alia is not nearly as certain about herself. When Kay stumbles upon a shelter in the woods belonging to two Beechians, enemies of their people, the girls see a perfect opportunity to prove their courage and worth. But then strange


Alia wants nothing more than to be selected as a keenten, a warrior woman. Her friend Kay, strong and fierce, is sure to be chosen, but Alia is not nearly as certain about herself. When Kay stumbles upon a shelter in the woods belonging to two Beechians, enemies of their people, the girls see a perfect opportunity to prove their courage and worth. But then strange events unfold, and Alia begins to question everything that has always been certain in her life—her friendship with Kay, her opinions of the Beechians and of war, even her singular desire to become a keenten.

A vividly portrayed, perfectly realized world and elements of the supernatural provide a magical setting for this stirring story, which will resonate long after the final page is turned.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"McCaffrey's first novel..both its setting and characterization are convincing...a solid blend of heartwarming coming-of-age tale and compelling adventure." BOOKLIST

Booklist, ALA

"rich characters, vivid descriptions, and suspenseful storytelling...much to think about...an excellent springboard for a timely discussion about war." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
In an insightful debut fantasy, a mystical connection to trees helps the 12-year-old heroine discover that warriors don't have to use a weapon or draw blood to win a battle. Alia and her best friend, Kay, yearn to become "keentens" (warrior women) when they turn 13, so they can join the war that has already taken the lives of two of Alia's brothers. The choice is easy for Kay, who excels in the war arts, but not for Alia, whose talents lie in communicating with the wild magic of the trees. Even so, both girls decide to prove their warrior worthiness by capturing two young Beechians ("a foolish, stubborn, savage people") whom Kay has spied hiding out in Trantian territory. However, when the girls take their prisoners to the keentens, certain they will be welcomed into the sisterhood, they face censure for their behavior and must wait for the village wizard to decide their fate. Despite some familiar plot devices-sacred woods, wise women, evil magicians-the novel succeeds in its realistic depiction of a girl's coming of age. Alia's struggle to accept (or deny) her natural talents and her attempts to alter herself in order to preserve a childhood friendship will resonate with readers. Ages 9-14. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Alia and Kay want nothing more than to join the keetens, the warrior women of their village, on their upcoming thirteenth birthday. As a way to attract the notice of these warrior women, they capture two suspected young spies from an enemy tribe and proudly bring them to the warrior's lodge. Instead of praise they are reprimanded for their foolish actions and told to care for the spies. The keetens want information about what happened at a recent Trader meeting among tribes, when a sacred grove and the healers within it were killed in a fire. Kay treats the prisoners with disrespect and mistrust, while Alia learns more from them by treating them with dignity. A horrible secret is told to Alia by one of the prisoners, which might tear the village apart. She then has to make the decision whether to follow the path of the keetens or follow her heart to the truth. An extremely well written book, this title should be part of any fantasy collection. The author sets the scenes beautifully, and creates wonderful word images of magic and nature. The story is a common theme of peer pressure—will Alia do as her friends urge her to do when she knows is wrong? Or will she stand up for what is right? Issues of gender roles and expectations are also addressed. Girls have a choice in life—they can be farm wives, healers, or warriors—another fact that sets this book apart. 2003, Clarion Books,
— Jennifer-Lynn Draper
Twelve-year-old Alia's goals seem difficult but straightforward. She and her best friend, Kay, yearn to be invited into the Keenten Sisterhood, warriors in the struggle against the evil Beechians. When she and Kay capture two ragged Beechian children who seem to be spies, her choices become infinitely more difficult. The two girls are given the responsibility of feeding and caring for the imprisoned Beechians. Kay is cruel to the two, but Alia begins to see them as likeable people. Soon she faces other challenges to her comfortable assumptions. The Healers in her village are much more than they seem, the apparently kind Divin who rules their lives is a dangerous fanatic, and the Beechians regard themselves as victims of tyranny. At the same time Alia discovers that she has the power to hear the trees speak, a gift that has not been common in recent generations. Ultimately the Divin faces charges of using magic to commit murder, and Alia chooses to become the new Speaker of the village, although this choice costs her Kay's friendship and a place in the Sisterhood. This first novel is competently written, and the complex plot is not fully resolved, leaving the reader hoping for more adventures for Alia and the Beechians. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P M J (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Clarion, 214p,
— Rayna Patton
Not all girls have the privilege of becoming warriors, and Alia wants nothing more than to be accepted into the woman warrior sisterhood, the keentens, with her best friend, Kay. Her brothers died fighting the war against her society's enemy, the Beechians, and Kate wants to fight to end the war. The keentens are highly selective when choosing girls to join the sisterhood, but when Kay and Alia discover two Beechian children hiding in the forest near their house, the girls are sure that their capture will lead to an invitation to be a keenten. Kay and Alia are assigned to guard the prisoners until their fate is decided. However, Alia is slowly realizing that she has a special gift — trees in the forest speak to her. Through her newly discovered gift, her relationship with the Beechian children, and a conflict with Kay, Alia discovers something terrible has been happening in her own society. She is determined to right the wrongs even if she must give up her dream of being a keenten and her best friend to uncover the truth and bring the justice for which her brothers died fighting. From the first page, young readers will be captured by the excitement and the suspense of the book. Long after the last page is turned, however, the reader will still remember the importance of compassion and self-discovery to help us through life. 2003, Clarion Books, 214 pp. Ages young adult. Reviewer: Brittany Scovel
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-Alia, a Trantian, wants to be a keenten, a warrior woman. As her 13th birthday approaches, she and her friend Kay hold pretend battles in hopes of impressing the adults who will choose new warriors. When the girls encounter two Beechian children, their savage enemies, and take them captive, Alia is certain that she and her friend will be praised for their bravery. Instead, the keentens are upset that they have taken it upon themselves to capture the enemy. As punishment, the girls must care for the prisoners. While tending to them, Alia begins to see them as people, and when they become ill, she quarrels with Kay over her decision to bring her healer cousin to their aid. Alia begins to question all she has believed in, including the honesty and integrity of their leader, the Divin Ospar. In addition, she discovers that she has an ancient and powerful gift. The rich characters, vivid descriptions, and suspenseful storytelling are well blended in this novel about war, enemies, and finding oneself. The unpredictable conclusion will give readers much to think about. The book is an excellent springboard for a timely discussion about war and the role leaders play in controlling conflict among nations and people.-Linda L. Plevak, Saint Mary's Hall, San Antonio, TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A girl comes of age in a not-quite-realized fantasy world. Alia and her friends want nothing more thing to be accepted by the kenteens, the warrior women of the tribe. Whenever she can sneak away from the women's work of her chores, Alia fights mock battles in the woods, in the hopes that the warrior women will see and admire her. When she and her best friend, Kay, find and capture some Beechians-enemies of the tribe-they are sure that they have secured their place among the kenteens. But Alia discovers something is very wrong. The enemy fighters are merely children, and the leader of Alia's tribe is treating them strangely. Dangerous secrets threaten the future of the tribe. Alia will have to choose between her lifelong dream of becoming a warrior and what she knows is right. There's a possibility here for an intriguing sequel, though thin characterizations and oddly inconsistent gender roles leave this debut's potential unfulfilled. (Fiction. 10-13)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.78(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Laura Williams McCaffrey is author of Marked, Water Shaper, and Alia Waking. She is on faculty at Solstice, an MFA in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College, and lives in Vermont with her family. Visit her website at www.laurawilliamsmccaffrey.com.

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Alia Waking 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although the story itself is straighforward, there is much more to it, having to do with loyalties to one's friends, being true to oneself, finding one's way. Aspects of this story will stay in your head long after you have finished the book. I especially liked the magic nature of the trees.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I actually read this book last year when I unearthed it in the school library. Until now, the name had completely escaped me. But trust me, the book was worth searching for for a year. It shows how bittersweet growing up really can be, and it was altogether very well-written. :D
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is a wonderful book that indeed makes you think if you alter yourself to fit the wishes of others,or if you go on and find your own place in the world. I found Alia charming,and cried when a spat with her best-friend didn't end with a tearful apology. It also shows a harsh reality in life,that friends don't always stay friends forever,every fight doesn't have a make-up.