A novel about one girl’s journey to the arctic, where she discovers the power of letting go of pain and opening up to second chances
When twelve-year-old Talia—still reeling from the recent death of her mother—is forced to travel with her emotionally and physically distant whale-researcher father to the Arctic for the summer, she begins to wonder if the broken pieces inside of her will ever begin to heal. Like her jar of wishes, Talia feels bottled up and torn. Everything about life in Churchill feels foreign, including Sura, the traditional Inuit woman whom Talia must live with. But when Sura exposes her to the tradition of storytelling, she unlocks something within Talia that has long since been buried: her ability to hope, to believe again in making wishes come true.
A rich and poignant story about opening up—to new people, to second chances, to moving forward with life.
Praise for Waiting for Unicorns:
"Debut author Hautala's writing in this first-person narrative is lyrical and evocative; her descriptions of the landscape are vivid. Written by an author to watch, this quiet story of loss and healing will appeal to thoughtful readers." --Kirkus Reviews
"This poignant story demonstrates that opening up to new experiences, places, and people can enrich life even in the aftermath of tragedy."--School Library Journal
“[An] affecting exploration of grief and the hope that can come through the love of good friends. With spellbinding descriptions…this story will stay with readers.”--Publishers Weekly
“Contemplative writing…a thoughtful examination of loss and hope.”--Booklist
"Hautala mines the frigid setting for some exquisitely wrought metaphors of sadness and grief, and Tal’s reflections on her situation are lyrical and yet still appropriate, given her age. Readers who were touched by Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting by 7s will find this to be a similarly moving tale."--BCCB Reviews
"Middle school readers will embrace Talia and her new family in the Arctic and perhaps receive the message about the power of stories to heal."--VOYA Reviews
"This is a well-written tween novel that deals with growing pains, grief, and loneliness."--School Library Connection
Ever since her mother died of cancer, 12-year-old Talia has been lost in grief. Her father's whale research takes the two of them to the small coastal town in Manitoba, where they will live with his old friend, an Inuit woman named Sura. Talia hopes to find a unicorn whale (a narwhal), which she believes can make her most important wish come true: the chance to say one last goodbye to her mother. With help from Sura, new friends, and her own father Talia discovers that while some wishes go unanswered, others come true in their own ways. Debut author Hautala weaves Inuit stories and tradition, as well as the fairy tales Talia's mother told, into this affecting exploration of grief and the hope that can come through the love of good friends. With spellbinding descriptions of Talia's icy new surroundings ("the new snow looked like it was lit from beneath. It was almost as if the sun had somehow broken itself apart and burrowed under the arctic landscape"), this story will stay with readers. Ages 10 up.