As her name suggests, thirteen-year-old Cady Whirlwind Thunder is of Native American descent and she has experienced a tumultuous past twelve months. Her father at 55 married a 24-year-old woman. Cady has a new baby brother, the family moved back to the U.P. from Minnesota, and dad enrolled her, for the first time ever, in a reservation school. The move and the new school take Cady, and the reader lucky enough to open this book, into a fascinating deep dive into Native American culture and a perplexing mystery.
One day at school Cady finds an eagle feather dropped by someone in the hall. She takes the feather to the school principal who tells her she has just performed an act of honor by picking up the eagle feather and it signifies she may soon stumble across a mystery. Within days Cady discovers a beautiful necklace someone hid under her bedroom floor. She is very curious why and how the necklace was hidden in her bedroom but every time she asks a elder of the tribe about the necklace they are reluctant to talk about it. On a trip back to Minnesota she discovers her grandmother is part of the mystery when Cady is shown an old photograph in which her grandma is standing next to a young woman wearing the necklace. Her grandmother tells her she didn’t find the necklace, the necklace found her and sends Cady back to the U.P. with even more desire to find the truth.
Cady is a beautifully drawn and very likeable character. Readers will feel lucky to have found Cady and accompanied her on a journey of self-discovery. Cady grows to appreciate how her people are much more in touch with the natural world, possess an ingrained sense of wonder, and a firm belief that nature in all its myriad forms communicates with them. Best of all they live in harmony with the natural world.
It is also a pleasure to watch Cady grow, mature, become more in tune with her family. The author taught for 15 years at the Hannahville Indian School in the U.P. and wrote this book for her students. The novel has won awards from the Midwest Independent Publishing Association and the Historical Society of Michigan to name only two. And oh yes, this is a YA novel, but I defy anyone of any age to read a few pages and not become totally absorbed in Cady’s life.