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16 February, 2007
Read and Reviewed for Armchair Interviews
It is the summer of 1971. The war in Vietnam is raging, and the draft has not yet been repealed. Hippies and protesters are treated badly everywhere. The oil companies are looking to expand into previously untapped oil reserves in Alaska. It is a time of change for the country. In Alaska, the Inupiat community is learning to survive by incorporating their traditional hunting and gathering lifestyle with more modern accessories, and tourism
Kayuqtuq is an orphan who has been raised in a traditional Inupiat village. Her traumatic past haunts her everyday life. She falls in love with the old stories told of life before the missionaries came to the North. Because of these tales of times with different powers for people, she has decided that the only way for her to gain the respect she deserves from the village is to become a shaman, a path that has been outlawed in modern Inupiat society.
Leif Trygvesen is a university student who has come north to do research on the effects of oil spills on the salt marshes and to find evidence of the rare Tallinn 's goose, an endangered species of goose he hopes to keep from being declared extinct. Leif, a pacifist from Seattle, is trying to do some good while evading the draft. While his scholastic exemption has kept him safe, his family has been torn apart by the recent death of his brother who did go to fight.
Kayuqtuq and Leif find their paths intertwined as the summer progresses. What starts as curiosity about the other's lifestyle, develops into attraction and love. As both Leif and Kayuqtuq work their way through cultural conflicts, spiritual awakenings and discovering and developing their love in a time of turmoil--they begin to realize that the time they have together may be short.
Author Lesley Thomas brings her first-hand knowledge of growing up in the Arctic forward into a haunting story The alternating viewpoints of both Leif and Kayuqtuq's took some time to become familiar. However, once adjusted, I quickly devoured the fantastically told tale in this book.