Reviews for Written in Stone
Booklist Reviews 2013 June #1
In a brief framework story set in 1999 in northwest Washington State, an elderly Makah Indian named Pearl walks toward the ocean, singing a song remembered from her childhood to welcome the whale brought home after a traditional hunt. The time shifts to 1923, when 13-year-old Pearl learns that her father was lost at sea during a whale hunt. She finds strength and comfort in her extended family and their traditions, while recognizing that the world around them is encroaching on their way on life. Meanwhile, a supposed art collector attempts to trick Pearl's elders into signing away valuable mineral rights. While struggling with grief, Pearl begins to discover her strengths and how she can use them for the good of her people. Parry, who once taught Makah and Quinault students, 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. An informative author's note is appended. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
BookPage Reviews 2013 July
Honoring the old ways of the Pacific Northwest
Author Rosanne Parry’s first teaching job was on the Quinault Indian reservation in Taholah, Washington. Her fifth grade students at Taholah Elementary asked her why there had never been a book about them. Their questions launched Parry on a career as a writer of award-winning novels for young readers, including Heart of a Shepherd. Now, with Written in Stone, a heartfelt, meticulously researched portrait of a community in transition, Parry has provided an answer for her students, in a story dedicated to the children who inspired and welcomed her into their lives.
In 1923, Pearl is a 13-year-old girl who dreams of hunting whales like her renowned father, Victor Carver, who, she thinks proudly, is “the best whaler of the Makah, probably the best Indian whaler on the whole Pacific coast.” But Pearl’s hopes of accompanying her father are shattered when he is killed on the last whale hunt.
Pearl, who lost her mother and baby sister in the flu epidemic of 1918, must now search for her own path and find a way to carry forward and celebrate the traditions, stories and values of her family and community in a rapidly changing world.
In May 1999, the Makah successfully completed their first traditional whale hunt since the 1920s. Pearl’s story is told as a flashback on this occasion, as she remembers that last whale hunt and her own journey through her life.
In the author’s notes that provide historical context for young readers, Parry writes, “Pearl is a tribute to Native grandparents everywhere who work to keep cultural memory alive.” And it also seems clear that Written in Stone is a tribute to Parry’s fifth grade students, who shared their stories and culture with her. Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
When a young Makah girl's father dies in a whale hunt, she must find a way to forge a future for herself. Set on Washington's Olympic Peninsula in the 1930s, the novel is lyrically written but gets bogged down in the provision of cultural practices and the lack of a clear direction for the plot. An afterword details the author's prodigious research.
Kirkus Reviews 2013 May #1
Five years after her mother and baby sister die in the 1918 flu pandemic, Pearl's father is lost in the last Makah whale hunt. 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. (map, bibliography, glossary, author's note) (Historical fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 November/December
This engaging story does an effective job of portraying the challenges and rewards of Pacific Northwest Indian life from traditional, evolving, and modern perspectives. Using first-person narration, the elderly Pearl tells of events that took place in 1923, the year she turned 13. The tribe has been decimated by the combined effects of World War I and the influenza epidemic. Their livelihood, whaling, is no longer viable; the remaining members are facing starvation and must consider drastic measures. Pearl effectively conveys the tribe's traditional belief system and values as she relates the events, prejudice, environmental changes, and physical challenges she and her family experience. Most of the Native American characters are well-developed. There is sufficient action and intrigue to keep readers interested. Social and moral issues are addressed through non-preachy scenarios. Pearl emerges as a determined, strong leader, foreshadowing her life as an activist and spokesperson for ndian rights. Kathleen McBroom, Dearborn (Michigan) Public Schools [Editor's Note: Available in e-book format.] RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 April #5
Paying tribute to the fortitude of Northern Native American tribes, Parry (Second Fiddle) creates a vivid novel tracing a Makah orphan girl's coming of age during the early 1920s. At one time, 13-year-old Pearl held an esteemed position in her tribe as the daughter of "the best whaler of the Makah" and a master weaver. Now, Pearl's parents are dead, and she is uncertain about her position in the world. She considers leaving home to work in the city like many struggling natives, including her independent-minded cousin. It isn't until a white stranger threatens to trick local tribes out of their oil-rich land that Pearl realizes her need to preserve her people's traditions and, especially, their stories. While unveiling a dark corner of history during a period when imperialism and the exploitation of Native Americans ran rampant, Perry, 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. Ages 9-12. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. (June) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2013 June
Gr 5-7--Parry blends Native American folklore and culture with historical fiction to portray a 13-year-old girl who tries to remain true to the ways of her Makah tribe. Pearl's mother and baby sister died in the flu pandemic of 1918; five years later, her father loses his life on a whaling expedition, leaving her an orphan. She strives for ways to make a sustainable living while preserving her Pacific Northwest tribe's traditional practices of working with the land and its resources. Pearl's dream of becoming a whaler like her father is unrealistic, both because women are not allowed to hunt whales and because the whale population is rapidly diminishing. When an art collector approaches the tribe to purchase cultural artifacts for a museum, Pearl is suspicious. She uncovers his true agenda: he wants to tap the community's natural energy resources to the detriment of her people's livelihood. 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.--Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI [Page 139]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.