A-M Mawhiney’s debut novel Spindrifts is a futuristic fantasy about the healing of the earth. As Young Adult fiction, it is written with simplicity of style, yet it is a complex story that looks forward in hope while addressing difficult choices made in the past and present. The new world that has “risen from the ashes” has hidden darkness, and it falls to the youthful protagonists to find the way forward.
The action takes place about fifty years from now when the earth is returning to health following the devastating plagues and environmental conditions of our time. Racism, climate change, and intolerance are past; the Earth Project is being implemented to bring about healing of the planet. Youth in this future attend a two-year Immersion program in isolation to learn their role in completing the restoration of balance to the earth.
The story begins with fifteen-year-old Fania’s homecoming after two years in Immersion. She should now begin her five-year apprenticeship to develop the skills necessary to make her contribution to earth, but she is disappointed because she is apprenticed to her great grandmother, Alicia, and pictures her next five years in Alicia’s underground lab.
Alicia, however, has other plans for Fania. She believes that Fania has a significant contribution to make, but its nature is not yet known. Great care must be taken to reveal it in its own time. Therefore, Alicia assigns Fania the task of learning the significance of past events through working with family members and listening to their stories. Also, Fania will be participating in projects and meetings involving distant cultures. Essentially, Fania will come to understand her world, past and present.
Four generations share the responsibilities of their household in overall harmony, but there are tensions between family members. Alicia’s daughter Hope resents her mother’s control of the family, and still feels the pangs of a child ignored by a busy mother doing important things. Fania, as she learns more about her family history and the secrets of the earth’s progress, finds herself increasingly challenging her great-grandmother.
There are hints of hard decisions made in the name of healing the planet. Certain details are suppressed. As Fania’s knowledge grows and her special gifts begin to reveal themselves, her anger grows.
There is tension and there is love – Fania and her sister Nuna are completely different, with unique gifts, but they share a special sibling bond. There is the development of feelings between Fania and Sachi. Fania’s relationship with her grandfather is especially moving.
Mawhiney shares an intimacy with her characters, seeing their potential and their failings yet embracing their humanness. She knows them well and they live on the pages.
Family, friends, and future hopes are areas all youth deal with. Personal realities will be different, but youth can identify with the questions of the search, and the text examples can frame their consideration. Possible directions for the future are implied: The principles of the Grandfather Teachings are applied in the healing process. Special gifts are pleasing and worthy of celebration, not hidden away or suppressed as oddities. Youth are key to the recovery of the earth. These are worthy of consideration and can open many discussions.
Although the novel lacks a traditional antagonist, there is still dramatic tension as the characters face the challenges arising from events past and present. It is a positive story, a story of hope, told with simplicity and with honesty, but it is not naïve, for messages of hope can inspire us to a less dystopian future.
Spindrifts tackles the hard questions of our time while gracing the reader with real characters, complex family relationships, and a vivid futuristic setting. This book will appeal to young adult readers, as they contemplate the role of youth in our planet’s future, and it will appeal to all who look for a better future for the earth.
A-M Mawhiney was deeply moved by the events of 2020 and the cries from advocates fighting for equity and justice for people living precarious lives because of structural barriers and discrimination. As a former social worker and academic, she has spent her career seeking ways to improve lives of marginalized learners through inclusive education for all students. Mawhiney has hope for a better future for us all. Her vision of what this might look like inspired her to write Spindrifts.
Anne-Marie lives in Sudbury, Ontario, in the territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek in the Robinson-Huron Treaty Area, with Dave McGill and their canine companion, Charlie.
- Publisher : FriesenPress (Nov. 15 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1039109667
- ISBN-13 : 978-1039109667
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