A Pos­si­bil­ity of Whales

Karen Rivers, Al­go­nquin Young Read­ers (MARCH) Hard­cover $16.95 (288pp), 978-1-61620-723-6

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews -

A Pos­si­bil­ity of Whales is charm­ing and sweet as it ex­plores per­sonal iden­tity, life changes, love, and, of course, whales. Nat—short for Natalia Rose Baleine Gal­lagher—is the daugh­ter of a movie star who doesn’t know who her mother is. Af­ter years of out­run­ning pa­parazzi and a dev­as­tat­ing in­ci­dent con­cern­ing Nat’s best friend, her fa­ther de­cides that it is best for them both to seek seclu­sion in Canada. There, Nat has plenty of time to ru­mi­nate—and to wish that the boy she just met was more will­ing to be her friend. The sub­ject of per­sonal iden­tity un­der­lies the story, shown through Nat’s thoughts on her own place in the world and through her trans friend Harry, work­ing to be him­self though oth­ers don’t ac­cept him. While Nat floun­ders to de­ter­mine who she is, who her mother is, and who the woman she calls The Bird re­ally is, Harry is cer­tain of him­self; it’s oth­ers, like his fa­ther, who refuse to rec­og­nize him. Nat’s sense of loss is si­mul­ta­ne­ously heart­break­ing and en­gag­ing. Mother­less and friend­less, her de­sire to con­nect to Harry is sym­pa­thetic. The story ex­plores how her sense of self is fil­tered through her re­la­tion­ships: Should her mother’s ab­sence de­fine her? Should Harry’s lack of in­ter­est? Her mid­dle name, Baleine—mean­ing whale in French—gives her a con­nec­tion with whales and fu­els her wish to see some in real life. On Nat’s birthday, events come to a head; her life­long wish to see whales is ful­filled when she and and Henry are given a whale-sight­ing trip, though its re­sults are ones that no one could pos­si­bly pre­dict. Nat’s story of self-dis­cov­ery is sure to in­spire any­one search­ing for their place in the world.

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