Singing Home the Whale - Mandy Hagar

An extraordinary story, from an award-winning New Zealand author, of how the arrival of a baby orca whale threatens to tear apart a small fishing community and forever changes the life of the boy who first finds it.

Will Jackson is hiding out, a city boy reluctantly staying with his uncle in small-town New Zealand. After he discovers a young abandoned orca, his life is further thrown into chaos when he rallies to help protect it against hostile locals. The boy and the whale develop a special bond, linked by Will’s love of singing. With echoes of the classic book and film The Whale Rider, this is a strong, exciting and beautifully written story and a compelling exploration of many global concerns.
(Description courtesy of Goodreads)


I was given this novel by a friend while at a child lit conference, recently, in Worcester, UK. Given her recommendation and favourable words, I couldn't help but put it at the top of my to-read pile upon returning home. 

As many can attest, this is a VERY large pile, so you know that it would have taken a lot to get this book right to the top of the pile. I can now confidently say that this book mesmerized me. The dual narrative from the perspectives of a young man and a young Orca, makes this book both expected and unexpected. What I mean by this, is that I have become familiar with the New Zealand literary obsession with whales (maybe obsession isn't the right word, but whales are most definitely a common theme). This book is gorgeous. I know that sounds a bit trite, but it's true!

Singing Home the Whale is captivating. Full of strong characterization and setting-building, Hager's novel will affect you in ways you'd never expect. The art in between chapters, and the distinct voices of Will and Min will keep readers engrossed in the story from the first page. The townsfolk are far from admirable, and it is their dislikable qualities that help both Will and Min shine through as protagonists and narrators. Hager's work is clean and lyrical, providing readers will a truly emotional and heartfelt story that will remain in hearts and minds for days/weeks/months after!

Highly Recommended

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