The Whaler's Daughter

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In 1910, twelve-year-old Savannah Dawson lives with her widowed father on a whaling station in New South Wales, Australia. For generations, the Dawson family has forged an unusual relationship with orcas—they work together to hunt whales. But Savannah believes the orcas may have also played a dark role in the inexplicable death of her older brothers, who died mysteriously while fishing. Savannah is desperate to take her place on the whaling vessel, to prove to her father that she is worthy of carrying on the family legacy, and to seek vengeance against “the killers” that were responsible for the death of her brothers. But no one wants a girl in a whaleboat—that is, until Figgie, an aboriginal boy, helps Savannah hone her whaling skills and learn about the Law of the Bay. When Savannah is rescued by a mysterious spirit orca after her boat is wrecked at sea, she is forced to reevaluate all that she once held to be true about orcas, her family, and herself. Vowing to protect the orcas against the greedy plans of an unscrupulous developer, Savannah enlists the help of Figgie, her schoolmates, and her aboriginal friends to pull off an orca-saving heist.

Praise for The Whaler’s Daughter

“Jerry Mikorenda’s first novel for young adults, The Whaler’s Daughter, ticks all the boxes: a fascinating saga that takes place in a faraway place and time featuring a courageous and ambitious young heroine who aspires to more. Twelve-year-old Savannah Dawson’s efforts to earn a place on her father’s whaling boat at the turn of the twentieth century in Australia will inspire twenty-first-century readers to hold fast in their quest to attain their dreams. A rollicking good story!”

– Karen Dionne, award-winning bestselling author of The Wicked Sister

“In The Whaler’s Daughter, main character Savannah Dawson’s engaging honesty and rollicking energy sweep readers up in this coming-of-age adventure. Jerry Mikorenda’s YA novel debut delivers a touching, funny, sometimes gritty, always heartfelt ride.”

– A. M. Jenkins, author of the Delacorte Prize-winning novel Breaking Boxes and the Printz Honor Book Repossessed

“What if Moby Dick were turned inside out? The Whaler’s Daughter brings a girl and a pod of blackfish—orcas—together in a dance of vengeance and takes them to a place of hope. You’ll fall in love with Savannah Dawson, a mashup of Scout Finch and Kahu Paikea Apirana, the heroine of Whale Rider.”

– Elizabeth Gaffney, author of When the World Was Young and host of The 24-Hour Room

“The Whaler’s Daughter is a remarkable story about friendship and family bonds, coupled with mystery, thrill, and some extraordinary talents and abilities. It evokes various emotions in the reader, like grief, heartbreak, joy, and even wonder, as one follows Savannah’s journey. Therefore, the book deserves a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to young adults and children between the age of ten and sixteen, looking for a fun and profound adventure story with a perfect ending and numerous lessons.”

– Guda LM, Online Book Club,org [read the full review]