Synopsis: The ancient history of whales is rich with ancestral tales of superior wisdom, prehistoric tradition, and unending love. Through haunting songs and fluid dances, stories were told of the valor of warriors, the triumph of great chiefs, and the celestial songs of a mythical tribe of whales—the Navigators.
As a young female whale just coming of age, Lani finds herself daydreaming: not about the local boys, like her best friend, Prissy, but about the myth of the Navigators. When a new comer arrives at the islands and rumors spread about his connection with the Navigators, her imagination ran wild with possibilities. Against the will of her elders, Lani seeks out this new comer in an attempt to satisfy her inquisitive mind. What she finds is more than she ever bargained for. Breaking tradition, she leaves behind her duties as a female, her friends, and her family, and sets out on a quest for knowledge and truth. Along her journey, Lani discovers more than just the mystery of the Navigators. As lifelong family secrets are exposed, she makes unexpected—and unlikely—friends, experiences the pains of loss and faces the fear of death. Through her trials and tribulations, Lani discovers herself, finds her strength, and changes the history of whales forevermore.
A story of strength, self-discovery, love, and legacy, The Last Navigator resonates with anyone who has, or ever wanted to, know more and be more in life. It speaks to the hearts of young and old, inspiring us to be true to our heart’s desires and follow our dreams.
(Source for image and synopsis: J.G.McNease)
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The Last Navigator is a beautifully written debut novel for middle graders. J.G. McNease artfully uses the metaphorical experiences of a young female whale named Lani to bring to the page the experiences an adolescent girl might find herself facing in her own world.
Curious and somewhat independent, Lani struggles with the ancient myth of the Navigators and the fact that, as a female, she is not allowed to learn more about them or become one of them.
The arrival of an old and wearied whale to the area leads to the discovery that he in fact may be the last of the Navigators. Testing her own limits, Lani takes fate into her own hands by approaching the Navigator. What he sees in Lani will change the course of her life and the relationships with her mother and pod. But free-spirited and excited, Lani becomes the Navigator’s apprentice and finds herself on a journey she never expected. In so doing, Lani discovers not only herself but her strengths as she changes the course of female whales forever.
An exquisitely told tale of self-discovery, self-image, love, legacy and family, The Last Navigator is a book for those who have always wanted to stretch beyond their limits, whether self-imposed or imposed by others. Despite its classification of “middle grade fiction,” this is a book to also be enjoyed by adults and families alike. A not-to-be missed gem!
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Meet the author:
J. G. McNease was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is a lover of Cajun food, Mardi Gras, and college football. In grade school, she always loved creative writing and excelled in English and Literature. Leaving that passion behind, she pursued a social science career in college. She was always told by her peers that she was a “good listener”, and thought the only logical route for her was to major in Psychology. She loved helping people and making the world a better place, so her next step was to get a graduate degree in Social Work. In the social science field, she had to put aside her creative writing and focus on the art of “technical writing” (which was a challenge in and of itself). During her academic career, she met her husband whose passion for literature and writing inspired her to return to her original love of writing. She initially wrote poetry and journaled quite a bit but never tried her hand at book writing. In the fall of 2012, she began writing her first book which turned into a twenty chapter novel by early 2013.
Her interest in the Pacific Islands began when she participated in a graduate school course in Hawaii. While she was there, she found the culture and history fascinating. She experienced the magic of the islands and was inspired to write her first novel, The Last Navigator. Since writing her first book, she has written several other short stories and the beginning of the companion book to The Last Navigator (which has a working title of “Through Ryan’s Eyes”).
(Source for bio and image: J.G. McNease)
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UP NEXT: A review and giveaway of Elaine Drennon Little’s A Summer Place. You’ll find this on the blog if you check back on Wednesday, August 21st.