Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Book Review: Song For A Whale by Lynne Kelly

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Song For A Whale
Author: Lynne Kelly
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: Hardcover; 320
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Source: Publisher
Genre: Contemporary

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Young readers who love stories with heart, and a little bit of science to boot!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
In the spirit of modern-day classics like Fish in a Tree and Counting by 7s comes the story of a deaf girl's connection to a whale whose song can't be heard by his species, and the journey she takes to help him.

From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she's the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she's not very smart. If you've ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.

When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: she should invent a way to "sing" to him! But he's three thousand miles away. How will she play her song for him?

Full of heart and poignancy, this affecting story by sign language interpreter Lynne Kelly shows how a little determination can make big waves.

I've written, then deleted, at least four different versions of this review so far. Sometimes you pick up a story and it's so poignant, so important, that it's really hard to write anything resembling a coherent review. That's this book right here. Lynne Kelly has created something magical with Iris' story. It's not just the fact that she's a character who represents the Deaf community. It's not just the sweet way that she ties her passion for radios into communicating with someone who is just as lost as she is, in a sea of others. What makes this book special is how simply it shows how important connections are. To others, to yourself, to the world. I teared up while reading this book and, trust me, you're probably going to as well.

I wanted to give love, first and foremost, to Iris as a protagonist. You can absolutely tell that Kelly did her research, because Iris is precisely what readers from the Deaf community would be looking for in a character. Her inability to hear doesn't define her, but it does kind of set her apart in the world that she is attempting to navigate as a young person. She does a lot of growing from the start of the book, but my favorite part was watching her learn that she wasn't the only one who felt that way. I won't spoil, but there's a lot in this book about accepting others and, especially, appreciating their efforts to learn.

The scientific portion of this story, or the portion that had to do with the ever amazing Blue 55, was also beautifully executed. Learning about whale songs right alongside Iris made me smile. Kelly peppers in things like whale spout shapes, and fluke shapes, all the while making the learning feel like a normal part of the story. Plus, Iris' passion for all of this is infectious. I was rooting for her to communicate with Blue 55 right from the start, and you couldn't have pulled this book away from me if you tried.

I could gush on and on about the familial relationships in this book, or the way that it deals so perfectly with the loss of a loved one, but it would take many more paragraphs than you'd want to read. The fact of the matter is that this is both a gorgeous and important story. I thought the ending was a little bit out there but I had to remind myself that my middle grade self would have LOVED it. It's sweet, and Iris definitely deserved a happily ever after.

Read this! Put it into the hands of all the budding readers that you know. They're going to love Song For A Whale, and so are you.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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