By: Charles W. Shirriff
Publication Date: November 2001
Review by: Nancy J. Bailey
Review Date: September 11, 2009
In this gentle sequel to Spirits of a Feather, we follow Jay, a boy from northern Canada, as he matures and develops an education in Winnipeg.
Jay remains devoted to his girlfriend throughout this story despite her father’s continued efforts to break them up. This remains the main conflict throughout. In this story, we have a kinder, gentler Jay, one who is less opinionated and seems more open to the world.
What I found most interesting in the book were facts about a Hutterite Colony; how they originated in Russia and then originally migrated to South Dakota to escape military service mandated by the czar. Mr. Shirriff does a great job of illustrating the mentality of these pacifists without failing to humanize them.
Jay’s maturity is especially evident with his acceptance of his gay friend Steve. In the first book, Jay was overtly hostile. In this story the relationship has taken on a sort of comfortable familiarity while Jay still manages to retain perhaps a bit of his “straight man” homophobia. Steve has thrust himself into the task of educating the world about homosexuality, and perhaps is somewhat satisfied with having changed the outlook of just one person. Jay makes great strides in coming to terms with his Ojibwa roots as well; mainly through his mentor, a droll shaman named R.B. Jay has adopted the eagle as his totem animal. It may be the effect of meditation as suggested by R.B., but Jay develops a tremendous connection with his spirituality during this time in his life.
The best part of the story, for me, was when Phil decided to adopt Arrow the dog. I had initially found Phil’s character to be quite gruff, and for some reason the fact that he ended up with a dog was ultimately rewarding. I thought he needed one.
This story had many elements working toward one goal: the maturity and education of a young man. Jay manages to become engaged during the course of the book, an event I would never have believed during the first story. Despite all the different people and themes involved, the fact that they all seemed to work toward this common goal helped to unify the story quite well.
Quill Says: An enjoyable story about a young man growing up and connecting to his spiritual self.
For more information on Souls of a Feather, please visit the author's website at: www.Shirriff.org