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Susan Lynn Reynolds

Toronto, HarperCollins, 1991. 277pp, cloth, $16.95
ISBN 0-00-223590-0, CIP

Grades 6 and up/Ages 11 and up
Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Volume 20 Number 1
1992 January

Divided into three parts, Strandia, a fantasy and Reynolds' first novel, tells the compelling story of a teenager. Sand, in search of her identity. Part One, 'The Island," reveals Sand's membership in an island society in which some women, who seemingly have a special relation­ship with the mythical Sea Mother, possess a talent that enables them to call dolphins to drive fish into their families' nets. Over the years, this talent has led to Strandia's peoples becoming socially and economically divided. The ruling class, families whose women possess the talent, owns the shoreline while the Mid islanders must pay rent to fish off the beaches.

Against her wishes and for a record bride-price. Sand is to marry the arrogant Tamin. By pretending she has no power. Sand avoids marriage, but, having disgraced her family, she leaves home and ultimately comes to live among the Midislanders, where a boatbuilder, Berran, falls in love with her. An angry Tamin, claiming that Sand had tried to cheat his family, has her pursued by the island's priests, who, after capturing her, set her adrift during a storm. If the Sea Mother judges her innocent, the boat will drift ashore; death will affirm guilt.

In Part Two, "The Continent," a rescued Sand finds herself in a foreign land where another man, Renellus, shows romantic interest. While there, Sand learns that a "traveling" star's approach will cause tidal waves to roll over her native island. This knowledge, which Sand recognizes as conforming to Strandia's religious mythology, causes her, in Part Three, "The Sea," to return to Strandia to convince the people to seek safety on the water. With Strandia largely destroyed, the people get another opportunity to create a new, better social order.

Strandia offers much to its pre-teen and teenage audiences. In addition to a strong, venturesome story-line and good characterization, Reynolds presents her readers with numerous challenging questions on such issues as women's roles in society, the abuse of religious power, and the relationships, actual and ideal, between rich and poor. Finally, running throughout is Sand's close emotional relationship with M'ridan, one of the dolphins.

Dave Jenkinson, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man.
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