Sunday, June 10, 2012

Selkie Dreams by Kristin Gleeson


Maire was an only child whose mother died when she was a mere babe.  Her father was a strict parent, but he had Cook raise Maire which was wonderful for them both.  Cook had no children of her own and doted on Maire.  Maire was a curious young lady and always wondered about her mother.  There were tales that she had been a Selkie and needed to return to the sea...Maire overheard other stories as well.  Since Maire always wondered what happened to her mother, she spent a great deal of time at the seashore looking for her.  

Maire's home life was strict, and her father was trying to get her married off to an older man.  Maire wasn't in favor of this match and was thrilled when the church offered passage to Alaska to work with the Missions.  It was a hard sale to get her father to allow her to travel so far from Belfast, but in the end, she was allowed to become part of the Mission and made the long boat trip. 
The only hindrance was Mrs. Paxson...she was always there telling Maire what to do and when to do it, and she also made Maire change her name to Martha....she hated that name.  This part of Maire's relationship never changed.....Mrs. Paxson was always in charge.

As Maire got settled in at the mission with Mrs. Paxson, she was very surprised at the comments made by the other folks and felt uncomfortable, but the connection she felt toward the land and sea was a comfort to her.  She became close with some of the Indians, but others rebuked her.

This book is superbly written.  The characters jumped out at you with all their colorful clothing and personalities because of the great detail and beautiful writing of the author. The author gives striking descriptions of the landscapes as well. You will be able to easily visualize everything.  You will get a detailed account into how the people of Alaska lived in their villages and clans. You will learn a lot about their culture, and some of what you don't want to learn.

You will fall in love with Maire for her innocence and her attempt to make something out of herself other than becoming a wife to an older man which her father thought was the best thing that could happen to his daughter.  The customs of the villages Maire needed to become used to were puzzling...especially concerning the ways the Indians solved problems and how they didn't want their children to attend school.  You will enjoy Maire's adventures and hardships and feel what she feels when she knows she doesn't fit in and especially when she does things that are totally against the principles of the clans.  Her Selkie Dreams get her into trouble at one point and follow her through until the end.

The book was very informative and fascinating in terms of learning about a different culture and their customs, but it got cumbersome as it continued on and on.   I enjoyed the book for most part, but am rating it a 4/5 because of the length. It also is not the type of book I normally read, but I am glad I read it.