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October 2, 2016

Review: Chasing at the Surface by Sharon Mentyka

by Elisabeth Scherer

chasing blog tour

Mom always says there are no coincidences. I know the Suquamish Nation held their blessing ceremony to help the orcas find their way home, but maybe being here has helped me find my way, too.  - excerpt from page 152

Chasing at the Surface by Sharon MentykaWelcome to one of the first stops in the #Chasingblogtour for Sharon Mentyka's new book Chasing at the Surface.

Today I want to share what makes this book a must-own. It is a middle grades book aimed at 8-12-year-old readers but appeals to a wide variety of people. Chasing at the Surface is available this week on Tuesday, October 4th.

Sharon Mentyka weaves a tale of a twelve-year-old girl who is searching for a new normal. Marisa's world turns upside down when her mother up and leaves in the middle of the night. Then, to make more chaos, her small Pacific Northwest inlet town becomes home for a pod of 19 orca whales. Marisa and her mother loved and studied whales together. They even adopted and named a whale calf upon discovering it in the area one summer.

But as the days come and go the whales aren't leaving the inlet. As much as Marisa doesn't want to involve herself she can't avoid the what is becoming a serious situation. It pushes Marisa towards making a stand to help save the whales. She learns to listen to her inner voice. At the same time, she's learning some lessons about life and friends, and what makes a family.

Her science teacher takes on a class project to help the crew attempting to help the whales escape. The public's frenzy of such majestic creatures escalates. The whale's food supply is diminishing. There is a growing urgency for the whales to make it.

"Be good."  Mom's last words, written just above her name in the letter she left. Just two little words, but everything that's been happening with the whales - and now with Harris - has me thinking about what being "good" means. Does it mean doing what's good for you, or for others" And what about the rest of the creatures on the planet?  - excerpt from page 93

This idea for Chasing at the Surface came from a real event that Mentyka then used to build her story around. It is chock full of facts about whales, pods, whale behavior and how to exist with whales in nature. It is the perfect fiction book that could be used in schools to read and discuss the effects humans have on nature. It also hits on growing up and standing up for what you know in your heart is right. It tells readers that you are never too young to have a voice for animal conservation.

Whales, she said, never exclude anyone from their pod. It doesn't matter if they're weak or injured or just different. In the world of the orca, everyone is a part of the group. Harris would probably say they "get it."  -excerpt from Page 81

Animal lovers will enjoy the details about these mammals. They will also love the passion shown to save the whales. Parents will love this book as a way to develop a child's appreciation for marine life.

Adults will love this book for the characters Mentyka has created. The mystery of why the whales came into the inlet and why Marisa's mom left to California keeps the story going. The build up of urgency to help the whales escape builds and you can feel how the situation is close to desperate. You will cheer Marisa on as she decides how she can best help the whales and ultimately come to grips with her home life. There are so many nuggets of good in this book.  I will leave you with one more:

"Forgiveness is a choice too, Marisa. But forgiveness takes courage. Because it's not just the person who hurt you that you're forgiving, you also need to forgive yourself. The change needs to be inside you. And the only way that can happen is if you grow in courage. And that can take a very long time."  - excerpt from page 193

I am happy to say that this is definitely a book I would read to my children or save for them to read when they are older. I consider this book to have a strong female main character that moms of girls would love to have in their to be read pile.

Chasing at the Surface comes out October 4th so go preorder it now. It will make a good gift for any 8-12 year old or whale fanatics in your life.

Thanks again to Sharon Mentyka for allowing me to read and review her book.  For other stops on the Chasing Blog Tour please check

Buy Chasing at the Surface at Amazon

Elisabeth grew up in a very small town in Minnesota but now lives in the lovely Pacific Northwest where she spends most of her time raising her two young children. She and her husband have a large collection of books that takes a good space of their small condo. When she's not reading she has a variety of hobbies that include crocheting, drawing, baking, cooking, and movie watching. You can also find her blogging at

Book info:
available formats: print (228 pages)
published: October 2016 by Westwinds Press
ISBN13: 9781943328604
target audience: 8-12 year old
genres:  juvenile fiction, environmental awareness 
a free book was provided by the publisher for this review

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