"Deeply ecological, original, and spellbinding." —Booklist, starred review
Raised in a remote seaside village, Thomas Witka Just marries Ruth, his beloved since infancy. But an ill-fated decision to fight in Vietnam changes his life forever: cut off from his Native American community, he fathers a child with another woman. When he returns home a hero, he finds his tribe in conflict over the decision to hunt a whale, both a symbol of spirituality and rebirth and a means of survival. In the end, he reconciles his two existences, only to see tragedy befall the son he left behind.
|Publisher:||Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||601 KB|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is one of the most beautifully written books I've read in a long time. Hogan, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, tells the story of Thomas and Ruth, members of a fictional Native American community on the Washington coast. Not long after their wedding, Thomas enlists to fight in Vietnam, and both of their lives are changed forever. Thomas, missing in action for a long time, ultimately starts a family in Vietnam. Ruth bears his son and raises him alone. When found and forced to return to the states, Thomas does not come home. It is only when some of the men of the tribe decide to initiate a supposedly tradtional whale hunt does Thomas return. The results of the hunt are tragic and disastrous, but they move Thomas in the direction of healing.This book is mystical, exquisitely beautiful and terribly painful. It is well worth reading.
After reading this book, I have the feeling that I listened to it. It sings, chants, sighs and moans in perfect time with the surf, regardless of how far inland you may be. I may never have read a more rhythmic piece of prose before, neither strained nor self-conscious, and the story suits the writing style perfectly.Ruth and Thomas, both members of a Pacific Northwest Native American tribe, are childhood sweethearts. They grow up together surrounded by the song of the ocean, the presence of ocean life ¿ most especially the whale and the octopus who are believed to have given them life ¿ and the legends and beliefs of their ancestors. Eventually they marry, but before Ruth¿s pregnancy is discovered, Thomas is led by a group of local ne¿er-do-wells to join the Army. After he is shipped off to Viet Nam, their lives change forever ¿ hers on home soil, his in a far distant country that will become his second home and the death of all his dreams. The story is sad and also joyful, steeped in magic, legend and bitter truths about the interplay of war, tradition and the natural world. This bringing together of the old with the new gives Hogan¿s story emotional power and social relevance, even though she draws her lessons from the distant past of the ocean-paddling tribes. A fine and very engaging read.