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Soundings: Journeys in the Company of Whales

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In this memoir of motherhood, love, and resilience, a woman and her toddler son follow the grey whale migration from Mexico to northernmost Alaska.

In this striking blend of nature writing, whale science, and memoir, Doreen Cunningham interweaves two stories: tracking the extraordinary northward migration of the grey whales with a mischievous toddler in tow and living with an Iñupiaq family in Alaska seven years earlier. Throughout the journey she explores the stories of the whales and their young calves—their history, their habits, and their attempts to survive the changes humans have brought to the ocean.

Cunningham’s voice is powerful: sharp, profound, sensitive, and unflinching. A story of courage and resilience, Soundings is about the migrating whales and all we can learn from them as they mother, adapt, and endure, their lives interrupted and threatened by global warming. It is also a riveting journey onto the Arctic Sea ice and into the changing world of Indigenous whale hunters, where Doreen becomes immersed in the ancient values of the Iñupiaq whale hunt and falls in love. For this is Doreen’s story, too—a fierce, feminist tale, touching on her childhood and her time living in a Women’s Refuge with her baby, becoming a mother, just like the whales.

Lyrical, brave, and fearlessly honest, Soundings is an unforgettable journey.

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