by Karen Rivers
288 pages; ages 8 - 12
Algonquin Young Readers, 2019 (paperback)
On her fourth day at the new place, Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher walked down the long, lumpy trail to the beach that lay at the bottom of the slope.
We learn a lot about Natalie, or Nat (as she’s called):
- Nat is 12 years old
- she’s moved a lot – dad’s job
- the Baleine in her name is silent – a secret between her and her mom
- her dad is famous – he’s an actor
- Nat loves possibilities – and there are many
Life as the daughter of a famous actor is challenging, and Nat wants just to be Nat. Not XAN Gallagher’s daughter. She also wants to know what kind of mom abandons her baby? “Even in nature, when animals were faced with actual danger, mother animals stuck by their babies,” she once told a friend. The friend who she left behind. The friend who, we learn, did One Terrible Thing.
Nat has found other friends. Harry, who she meets in the girl’s bathroom at her new school in Canada. Harry who is a boy on the inside regardless of the fact their birth certificate says they are a girl. Harry, who plans to write a book to help other kids feel OK in their own skin.
There is Bird, a woman she knows only on the phone. A secret friend, and maybe her mom…
What I like about this book: I like the chapter titles. For example: “The things you find when you aren’t looking.” I like the postcards that Nat writes to Solly – or at least attempts to write. I like that Nat collects words from a diversity of languages to help her understand how she feels about things, and how to describe things. And I like the adventure to Baja with Harry’s family, where Nat discovers that she is definitely not ready to grow up.
Because of her middle name, Nat loves whales. I think she’d be a whale if she could. She loves to watch them, listen to their calls.
Want to learn more about baleen whales? Check out this NOAA website.
You can listen to a recording of a humpback whale here.
Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.