Book Review: Raven’s End

Raven’s End, by Canadian author Benn Gadd, is a really good read for tweens!

‘Spiritual, philosophical, political, and beautifully written, Raven’s End is an exciting novel about the lives of ravens. . . ‘ (amazon.ca)

The characters are ravens that have human qualities of speech and emotion, but behave like real ravens. The story addresses all kinds of issues, from peer pressure to friendships, families, and spiritual beliefs – all against the beautiful backdrop of the Canadian Rockies and amidst the real wildlife living in that area. If you think of one of those moments when a squirrel looks at you, and you can just tell that it’s thinking something, this book is for you. It’s pleasant and interesting, and long enough to let you sink into the story and enjoy the mood.

This book could be an excellent complement to a homeschool curriculum for several reasons:

  • Young people who are schooled at home face the same challenges of growing up as everyone else, even though they do not do so within a group of same-aged peers. In this book, the ravens live as a small community. The young, middle-aged, and elderly interact. The adolescent ravens face the same choices and feelings as adolescent humans, but without the drama of a highly-charged school environment. They live and grow in the presence of different-aged companions, and they face challenges that the entire flock faces: difficult weather, finding food, etc. In this way, the book can help a homeschooler by reinforcing that everyone has a place within a community (not only within a school, as so many tween-oriented books suggest).
  • This book is also an excellent choice if you are looking for Canadian content that is realistic but not historical. The descriptions of the Canadian Rockies and nearby areas are accurate and reflect current events, and Gadd really portrays the atmosphere of the place – and the types of people who live there. ( I spent a few years growing up in the area.) Young Canadians from anywhere in the country can enjoy a semi-imaginary tale and come away with a lot of ‘stuff’ in their heads which relates to surviving in and enjoying a real wild place (unlike, say, Percy Jackson; other fantasy novels; or books in which surviving and thriving in a school environment is the main focus).

The love Benn Gadd has for the places and creatures he writes about shines through his writing.  The drama in Raven’s End is based on real events (snowstorms, predator-prey relationships), and somehow, the story remains grounded – despite the fairly silly premise of ravens thinking and feeling like humans! It’s a good read, and a book you just might want to add to your shelf (but go ahead and check it out of the library first!).

Rawk-a-taw!  (Ravenese exclamation of enthusiam, courtesy of the Yamnuska flock.)

Afterthought: The book does contain a rather bizarre spiritual premise – that humans reincarnate as ravens – but this is only the backdrop of the story and can easily be discarded as imagianry or ridiculous by a reader with (likely) different beliefs.

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