Review of “Culloo”, by Murielle Cyr

The death of her mother, a stay in the hospital for her grandmother, and now her dad is missing.  Tala thought life was difficult enough, dodging her nosy neighbor and dealing with her little brother, Dason.  But this…

What has happened to Tom?  He has had a difficult time accepting the death of his wife, Anjij, and does have a tendency to disappear.  Susan, their well-intentioned neighbor, feels it is her duty to alert the authorities when he is gone for these long spells.  Tala resents Susan’s intrusions into their lives, but there isn’t much she can do about it.

Until she is thirteen, which will be in a few days.  Then–FREEDOM from nosy neighbors and people saying she’s too young to be on her own, caring for her brother.

But this time, Tom’s absence seems different.  It concerns Tala enough that she takes off after him, or where she believes he might have gone.  Annoyingly, her brother insists on coming along, and he is too clever for her to leave him alone, where he can go tell on her to Susan.

After hiding from bear poachers, who seem to have been a part of Tom’s disappearance, the two siblings take off into the woods towards the top of the mountain.

A night in the rain, sheltered by an unseen presence, is followed by the discovery of a huge black feather beside the young searchers.  Was it Culloo, the mighty black bird of the mountain, who had hidden them under his wing while they slept through the storm?

Ever on the move, ever followed by…something…, they reach a spot where the family has camped many times, only to find their dad in big trouble.  But who led the children there?  Was it the Stone People of legend?  The only clues were the smell of pipe smoke and the occasional glimpse of something large in the woods.

In the end, Tala learns an important lesson, one that changes her outlook toward those who only have the best of intentions for her.

 

I drew a nice, hot bath, intending on reading a few chapters of this book.  I ended up getting out of tepid water over an hour later, with the entire book read.  It was that enthralling.

With a simple cast and few changes of scenery, Ms. Cyr has created a universe of stunning beauty.  The descriptions of the characters and their relationship with nature were so well-written that I found myself deep into their lives, hoping and despairing in turns.
The forest through which Tala and Dason fled was so vivid in its telling that I had no trouble imagining the beauty of the woods and the rocky terrain.

Written for the tween to middle high school, this book would be enjoyable for all.

The one thing that stands out in my mind the most is how the author wrote in such a way as to show the interdependent, intertwining relationships of all things.  From the trees supporting their fallen comrades, to the dependence of people on people, her message showed through plainly:  We all depend on each other, and without that, we become weak (such as how Tom seemed to abandon his children after his wife’s death, and how the bear poacher had no respect for his surroundings).

I highly recommend this book rom the bottom of my heart.

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