Hannah and the Salish Sea
By Carol Anne Shaw
Ronsdale Press, 2013
Hannah and the Salish Sea is the sequel to the popular youth novel, Hannah and the Spindle Whorl (Ronsdale Press, 2010). It begins with Hannah preparing for summer holidays in Cowichan Bay, a small coastal village on Vancouver Island where she lives on a houseboat with her widower father.
The reader is instantly immersed in the lovable cast of characters we met in the first book, though it is noticeable that Hannah is maturing. She has a cellular phone and her friend Max is now her boyfriend Max. For all the changes, Hannah is still just as quircky and entertaining as we remember her.
We are introduced to the irascible Izzy, a first nations teenager struggling to find her own identity amidst the conflicting influences of her family, her heritage, and the group of rogues she considers her friends. She soon finds herself exiled with her mother's friend Ramona in Cowichan Bay for the summer, and she is not happy about it.
As must be expected in a small village, Izzy soon crosses paths with Hannah, Max and Sabrina, and the different personalities make for interesting reading. Meanwhile, Jack (Hannah's Raven) knows something is going on in Cowichan Bay, and as he leads Hannah and her friends to more clues, it's apaprent that it is nothing good.
As with the first book we are entertained by Hannah and her friends, but having the point of view from Izzy for many of the chapters gave all of the characters more depth and richness. While it is an interesting adventure story, it's strength lies in the characters. We get to see their doubts and questions, and the answers they do, or do not find, within themselves.
This is a terrific novel, which should appeal to a number of ages. While the characters issues, and the storyline are serious matters, they are not overpowering for a younger audience, who will enjoy the plot and resolution without being too distracted by the more mature concepts. An older audience will appreciate the story as a great vehicle for the characters as they begin to figure out who they are and deal with their frustrations and the pressures involved with finding maturity. It's a story about identity, and discovering what's important to you, regardless of who you are.