Song for a Whale


Reading Song for a Whale at my little perch.

This story surprised me more than any of the others Stars for Buttons has read together. It was a simple read, and even though it didn’t travel back in time or kidnap fairies in Ireland, I went somewhere I’ve never been before. In Song for a Whale our protagonist, Iris, taught me so much of her life. The heart of a 12 year old. The heart of a girl desperate to be understood. The heart of someone battling deep loneliness that mirrors the heart of a whale, who is in a deep pursuit to belong.

I like that her story showed some of the struggles Iris faced in a society that doesn’t accommodate deafness well. (We are getting much better, but we’re not there yet.) I really liked that we focused on Iris’ abilities, specifically in relation to Blue 55 (The Whale) and the broken radios. She can tap into a world of vibrations that my senses have yet to practice. And she is remarkable, empathetic, compassionate, and, well, lonely.

Lynne Kelly draws a vibrant family dynamic as they struggle to relate and connect during their grief. Each individual suffers and expresses themselves differently. I found the family dynamic relatable and authentic for any aged reader. For example, Iris’ father struggles to connect with his daughter. He battles with communication, not quite learning ASL as quickly or as well as the rest of the family. Iris’ communication conflicts are not just at home but at school as well. She seeks a community, friendship, and true understanding.

As she endeavors to overcome her adversaries, she finds true connection and friendship in unexpected places.

I don’t want to spoil too much. So, I’ll leave it here (as I have a history of giving out spoilers in a very unforgiving manner). I do hope you’ll pick this book up and give it a try. It was a perfect read to start off the summer.

The Stars for Buttons crew rated this sweet book at ★★★☆☆. We enjoyed the rare perspective and the resolutions in this story. Some found it strange to read from the whale’s perspective about midway through the book, while others really enjoyed the fantasy element to the story.

If you’re interested in joining our book club, check out the FAQ at our sign up page. All are welcome. No matter age, book preference, etc.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this review, you might also enjoy some of the other books Stars for Buttons has read this past year.

Love and Gratitude,