"A deep dive into another culture, a shameful episode of history and one girl’s fight for self determination"
This highly anticipated companion novel to the Carnegie shortlisted Bone Talk is an even more remarkable achievement. I would not call it a sequel, although we do meet characters again, the voice and perspective is very different.
This is Luki’s story as narrated to the spirit of her dead mother and from the first sentence we are entirely immersed in her world in the mountains of the Philippines in 1904 and follow her decision to leave her village behind and travel with the charismatic American, Truman Hunt, to St Louis to take part in the World's Fair.
I don’t think I have ever experienced quite so strongly, the feeling of inhabiting another life as in reading this extraordinary piece of storytelling. There is absolutely no doubt that readers will be changed by this experience, we are not just learning a forgotten history, we are living it. We experience Luki’s aspirations, her misgivings, and her recognition of the truth about the people she meets and are ultimately appalled by the treatment they receive.
Real people and real events are seamlessly woven into the narrative and the book valuably includes more information and sources at the back. What is depicted here is indeed a shameful episode in American history and reflects appalling attitudes of racial superiority. But this country is every bit as guilty of such colonialism and disgraceful treatment of indigenous peoples and their cultures.
Unfortunately, people who are different, whether in appearance, way of life or beliefs also continue to be treated with contempt and even demonised today. Similarly, Luki’s quest for more than a subjugated female role and the way she kicks against the constraints imposed upon her, while balancing a deep love and respect for her traditions, is a dichotomy that will resonate with many girls and women today.
This is a potent and powerful novel that is as unforgettable as it is beautifully and accessibly written. It deserves a place on every award list and to be put into the hands of as many readers of any age as you can!
|Young Adult Fiction