Soundings: Journeys in the Company of Whales

Scribner. Jul. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781982171797. $27.99. MEMOIR
Cunningham, who has worked for BBC World Service for 20 years as a presenter, editor, producer, and reporter, follows the migration of the gray whales from Baja California to Kodiak Island, along with her two-year-old son Max. Woven through their journey are memories from her past: her childhood, her early career, the birth of her child and subsequent custody battle with her abusive partner, and the happy months she spent with Inupiat people in Utqiagvik (Barrow), Alaska, even participating in the traditional subsistence hunt for the bowhead whale. Information about whales and climate change are intertwined in the narrative in this lyrical, and informative memoir of a woman who has known strength and happiness in the past and is determined to reclaim them through her affinity with the whales.
VERDICT This memoir, with its vividly described events and locales, along with its natural history frame, will appeal to readers who enjoy narrative nonfiction or travel memoirs about women recreating themselves, natural history, Indigenous cultures, and whales. Fans of Margaret Renkl’s Late Migrations or Meredith May’s The Honey Bus will relish Cunningham’s story.
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