Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Possibility of Whales

35489152Rivers, Karen. A Possibility of Whales
March 13th 2018 by Algonquin Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Natalia lives with her movie star father, XAN GALLAGHER, a larger than life force even though he hasn't had a hit movie since she was a baby. Her mother left when she was very young. Tired of the paparazzi following the two of them around, her father moves them frequently, and the latest stop is a trailer over looking the coast in Canada. Nat misses her friends from her old school, even if there were some problems with them, but she does make a friend, Harry, at her new school. The two get along famously, and Nat doesn't care at all that Harry started out life as a girl, which is good, since Harry's family isn't as supportive as he would like. Harry is a bit reluctant to hang out with Nat, because he feels that if he could hang out with some of the cool boys, life would be easier. Nat is enthralled with the whales that she can see from her home from time to time, and shares this excitement with Bird, a woman she occasionally talks to on a burner phone that she found at her previous house. Bird seems a bit lonely, and is glad to talk to Nat, who sort of pretends that Bird is a mother figure to her. When the paparazzi find Nat and her father, she knows that her time in Canada is limited, and tried to make the most of it.
Strengths: This is a steady depiction of a transgender boy, and I appreciated that while Harry's father was not thrilled, the family was as accepting as they could be, and Harry's identity wasn't the whole point of the story. It's a tough balance, but Rivers has a nice touch with it. The issues of parental involvement and of a celebrity parent are also deftly handled. Rivers excels in hallucinatory scenes, but there is just a brief one in this book.
Weakneses: The story line with Bird was a bit odd, and didn't add a lot to the story. I also wondered how long Nat could continue to use the burner phone, so it was also a bit hard to believe.
What I really think: This put me in mind of Wilson's The Longest Whale Song. What is it about the lack of a mother and the connection to whales? Or Benjamin's The Thing About Jellyfish. Perhaps we need a more upbeat book involving the ocean!

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