Title: Song for a Whale |Author: Lynne Kelly |Publisher: Delacorte Press |Genre: Middlegrade Contamporary | 303 pages
I think this book was the first cover buy I made in ages. The book is simply beautiful to look at. Only at second glance I decided that the story sounded interesting too and would surely be worth my while.
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?
The main character of this book is Iris, a young girl who loves to repair old radios and is Deaf. The story is told in first person from her point of view.
I was really fascinated by the book and Iris’ character. I have talked to blind people before in my life but never really had any interaction with somebody who was Deaf, so it was a new and very interesting experience to read how Iris interacts with the world, how she experiences life and how her surroundings interact with her. Besides that, I found Iris a charming character, a little lost, very smart and determined. She had her own head and her own passions.
The book gives a lot of insight into the world of the hard of hearing but also taught me a lot of interesting things about whales, about glaciers and cruises.
At the beginning I was definitely enchanted and captivated. I loved the descriptions, I loved the characters. I loved how Iris’ struggles and loneliness was depicted and I was looking forward to how it would all be resolved.
Unfortunately, the farther I got in the book, the more dissatisfied I got. There was one thing that had me utterly torn: While I understood the struggles and hardships the Deaf girl was going through because of her disability, I also found her to be stubborn and unappreciative. It was so easy to feel for her because her feelings, the sadness, the anger, the need she felt were very well described. It seemed like she did have nothing and that’s why she was working so hard to help the whale but nobody seemed to understand how much it meant to her or discarded her feelings. But I also wanted to shake her and show her all the beautiful things she DID have. Because she seemed to look down on everybody else, who could never understand her because she was Deaf, no matter how much they tried to connect with her. Whatever other’s did, it never seemed good enough for Iris. Her way was the only way.
Which brings me to my second point, that I found somehow problematic: While I understand that Iris and how she wants to help Blue-55, how she feels connected to him and how she sets out to play him her song, drives the whole story, I was not really happy with what it tells the younger audience. I didn’t like how it seems to tell young readers that you should follow your dreams no matter how you go about it and no matter who you hurt. “Follow your dreams” is a great message, for sure, but I don’t think you should teach others that you should pursue them without regards of other people’s feelings and through lies and cheats.
All in all I was a little disappointed in this book. It started out really strong and declined after half the book. It surely has great disability represenation and gives great insight. It was fascinating and i learned a lot about different topics. I wish I liked this book a little more, but in the end I was just so dissatisfied and frustrated with the message that book sends.