In 1991 when Sue Harrison’s Mother Earth Father Sky published, I was in high school. I was an avid reader, but not easily entertained and finding these books was liking opening a dream door for me. Being a fan of Native American and prehistoric history, I thoroughly inhaled this book curled in my twin bed upstairs, staying up way too late into the night. I continued to enjoy Sue’s other books in the Ivory Carver series, My Sister The Moon and Brother Wind, with equal fervor, as well as her Storyteller series. Her paperbacks were placed front and center on the bookshelves by my bed and not only have they always stuck with me, I still have them in my treasured collection right near my still growing Kathleen and Micheal Gear compilation.
When I heard I had an opportunity to join Sue on her virtual blog tour for the publication of her books being presented as e-books by Open Road Media, I was thrilled to retreat to a favorite place once more – the world of prehistoric Alaska that Sue so vividly details in Mother Earth Father Sky! It brought back so many feelings for me to be able to take the time to enjoy the novel again since I hadn’t read it for a while.
It’s an enchanting book that pierces your emotions as a teen, and then again as an adult, and draws you into another world where life isn’t so easy. The story takes place in 7000s BC on the shores of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and showcases the Aleut people, which Sue painstakingly researched for many years prior to the book. Chagak is a 13-year-old, who with her little brother Pup, see their people destroyed and are the lone survivors.
It grapples with tough topics like death, abuse, ill-treatment, survival, revenge, and love. Some parents might feel the subject matter is too much for teens, but I disagree. I think it’s important for high-level readers to become immersed in this story of hope, determination, forgiveness and depth. As an adult, it’s an equally important read for many of the same reasons. Beyond all this, it’s a great history lesson as history is brought alive on the page.
With Sue’s imagery, I could smell the salty fish, feel the chill of the wind, see the ocean and area wildlife, feel the nature all around me through her protagonist’s eyes, and claim the soaring spiritualism that is the wilderness. I could feel Chagak’s desperate drive to survive, her desolate fear, and her emotional turmoil at the hands of the elements and new tribal and social interactions. I remember being young thinking that I could never survive what she has to go through not just physically in her surroundings, but emotionally as well. The abuse also that enters in, as it does in more power structures in history, made me so upset in the past as a young woman and I remember thinking I’d always be a strong independent woman. The strength I found in characters in books, like the character of Chagak in this novel, actually turned out to be what helped me find the fortitude to survive my own domestic abuse years later. I credit some amazing books, this being one, as what helped to give me some solace since I had read their determination in getting past worse struggles.
Beyond all that, this book fits in my grouping of best-loved historical literature. Not as heavy laden with verbiage as Jean Auel’s books, yet even more touching, poignant, and riveting, Mother Earth Father Sky is a must-read for a new generation of young readers, adults who’ve never read it, or as a re-visit to a favorite novel from the past. I hope this being released in e-book brings even more new readers and a publisher who will see her potential for further books or another series. We need more substantial writers like Sue Harrison who research these native people and prehistoric times and bring history to us in a way that makes us feel as if we are living it. I’d love to read even more by her.
This amazing survival story will leave you so breathless and emotionally connected that you’ll want to continue on in the series. It’s a beautifully written, superbly detailed, and highly researched book that you’ll not want to miss for a second, especially if you’re interested in stories of native people and survival that are written authentically in a way that doesn’t overburden the reader. I love books that bring the true meaning of nature and our symbiosis with it to the forefront, showing us how spiritual and meaningful our environment is to our lives.
I highly recommend you read this book if you’ve not yet, and re-read again if you did in the past. This is an endearing start to a solid series that will stay with you for many years after you’ve finished the story. It’s one I’ve never forgotten and have felt honored to be able to revisit it again. In fact, I was even able to tell my children, who are now middle readers, about the book. How exciting to pass it on to them!
Stay tuned this week for a review of another of Sue Harrison’s books, the start to her Storytellers series, Song of the River. Also, I am super excited to be featuring an interview with one of my author idols!
A young woman fights for survival amid the brutality of the last Ice Age.
It’s 7056 BC, a time before history. On the first day that Chagak’s womanhood is acknowledged within her Aleut tribe, she unexpectedly finds herself betrothed to Seal Stalker, the most promising young hunter in the village. A bright future lies ahead of Chagak—but in one violent moment, she loses her entire way of life. Left with her infant brother, Pup, and only a birdskin parka for warmth, Chagak sets out across the icy waters on a quest for survival and revenge.
Mother Earth Father Sky is the first book of the Ivory Carver Trilogy, which also includes My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind. Purchase Mother Earth, Father Sky in ebook form now: http://www.amazon.com/Mother-Earth-Father-Sky-ebook/dp/B00COWLYDY/ref=tmm_kin_title_0
Praise for MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY
“Mythic storytelling.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Sue Harrison joins the ranks of Jean Auel and Linda Lay Shuler.”
—The Houston Post
“Memorably great . . . in between the satisfying details of an ancient culture,
you smell the sweet heather, taste the wind, hear the roaring surf and sense
the joy of primeval love.” —Ruth Beebe Hill, author of Hanta Yo
“A book of haunting beauty and emotional power. I became the Aleut girl-woman
in Ice Age Alaska, and the carver, the seal hunter, the shaman . . . A
remarkable book of passion, tenderness, and the indomitable human spirit,
masterfully researched and beautifully written.” —Linda Lay Shuler, author of
She Who Remembers
“A moving and credible story . . . Harrison expertly frames dramatic events
with depictions of prehistoric life in the Aleutian Islands.” —The New York
Times Book Review
Video with Sue Harrison~
Author Sue Harrison, Biography~
Sue Harrison grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and graduated summa cum laude from Lake Superior State University with a bachelor of arts degree in English language and literature. At age twenty-seven, inspired by the cold Upper Michigan forest that surrounded her home, and the outdoor survival skills she had learned from her father and her husband, Harrison began researching the people who understood best how to live in a harsh environment: the North American native peoples.
She studied six Native American languages and completed extensive research on culture, geography, archaeology, and anthropology during the nine years she spent writing her first novel, Mother Earth Father Sky, the extraordinary story of a woman’s struggle for survival in the last Ice Age. A national and international bestseller, and selected by the American Library Association as one of the Best Books for Young Adults in 1991, Mother Earth Father Sky is the first novel in Harrison’s critically acclaimed Ivory Carver Trilogy, which includes My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind.
She is also the author of Song of the River, Cry of the Wind, and Call Down the Stars, which comprise the Storyteller Trilogy, also set in prehistoric North America. Her novels have been translated into thirteen languages and published in more than twenty countries. Harrison lives with her family in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula.
Here is the papercover cover from the 1990s!
Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/sueharrisonvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #SueHarrisonTour