Blessing's Bead
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Blessing's Bead

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  127 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Nutaaq and her older sister, Aaluk, are on a great journey, sailing from a small island off the coast of Alaska to the annual trade fair. There, a handsome young Siberian wearing a string of cobalt blue beads watches Aaluk “the way a wolf watches a caribou, never resting.” Soon his actions—and other events more horrible than Nutaaq could ever imagine—threaten to shatter he...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published November 10th 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published September 10th 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Kathleen
I picked this book up because it was featured on Booklist's "Top 10 First Novels for Youth". The story sounded intriguing because it takes place in Alaska, and I am somewhat familiar with that place as some of you may know.

It did not disappoint. This is a young adult book that I hope gets a LOT more buzz because it has so much going for it. It combines both a narrative of two sisters living during the pre-mechanized days of the Iñupiaq/Inuit natives in northern Alaska, and then switches to the v...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I found this story fascinating for its depiction of both traditional and modern Inuit life. Though both parts of the book are narrated in the first person, Book II is written in Village English (as opposed to School English, which we use), which took me aback at first until I got used to reading it. In Book I Nutaaq's people suffer from the influenza epidemic of 1918, the suddenness and sadness of which Edwardson evokes vividly. One minute Nutaaq's world is happy, the next minute shattered. In B...more
Scarlett Sims
In 1917 Nutaaq, a young Iñupiaq girl, is separated from her family when her sister marries a Siberian and her parents die in an epidemic that wipes out almost everyone she knows. In 1989 that girl's great-granddaughter, also named Nutaaq, must also deal with the separation of her family when her mother is deemed unable to take care of her. Debby Dahl Edwardson explains in her author's note that she married into the Iñupiat culture. She also describes the various real historical events that take...more
Briony
This was a nice read. I really enjoyed the first part and the history of the great-grandmother, but when it switched gears to the grand-daughter I thought it was okay. I felt like it lost some of it’s originally sparkle. The language in the second part was also initially annoying, but my brain automatically started to correct it and it got better. I can understand what the author was trying to create in the second part, but I personally would have liked it in proper grammar.

One thing I did like...more
Mrs. Schatz
I understand why adults would pick this book. Very well written and a great way to learn the culture of Inupiaq Eskimos of Alaska. I agree that young adults should read this but not sure it's going to be a huge hit. Would be a great addition to a social studies unit and given as extra reading to bring the history alive. It is one of the Virginia Readers' Choice books for 2011-12. I hope I'll be proven wrong.
Jen
It too me awhile to get into this book, the author's voice. But about 1/3 of the way in it really picked up. It definitely lacked depth and darkness, but as a book for young adolescents (like 5th grade), I can understand. What I particularly loved about this book was the weaving together of the theme. The ending was scintillating and nearly genius! Totally worth the read by itself.
Becky
Jun 30, 2010 Becky marked it as to-read
Recommendation from Shannon: "This is a great YA Alaska read. I enjoyed it, had some problems following who was related to who but overall really enjoyed it. It was historical and gave a great insight to the Inupiaq culture."
Phoebe
Sep 09, 2010 Phoebe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lisa, Deborah, Cheryl
A multigenerational story set on an Alaskan island far to the north, above the Arctic Circle. Nutaaq, a young Inupiaq girl, is devastated when her older sister marries a Siberian boy, visiting from across the ocean, and leaves, never to be seen again. She gives Nutaaq two precious blue beads, and one of the beads is handed down, through Nutaaq's descendants, eventually found and treasured by a new Nutaaq, the Blessing of the title, who takes it from her grandmother's sewing tin in 1989. The othe...more
Evette
Blessing's Bead by Debby Dahl Edwardson. This story is a type of historical fiction book. The story depicts the hardships of living in Alaska and the lost of identity, which is something very prominent in America with the mixing of cultures. Nutaaq and her family travel to mainland for the annual fair. This is where Nutaaq’s sister meets a young Siberian boy and they end up falling in love. She leaves with him to Siberia promising to bring back a blue bead for each member of the family on the ne...more
Angel Romero
This is a type of historical fiction book. The story depicts the hardships of living in Alaska and the lost of identity, which is something very prominent in America with the mixing of cultures. Nutaaq and her family live on a remote island closed to Alaska. They travel to mainland for the annual fair. This is where Nutaaq’s sister meets a young Siberian boy and they end up falling in love. She leaves with him to Siberia promising to bring back a blue bead for each member of the family on the ne...more
Rebecca
In 1917, two Inupiac sisters are separated forever when one marries a Siberian Inupiac and leaves for Russia. Nutaaq, who stays behind in Alaska, soon sees her family and her village devastated by the Spanish flu. All she has left of her sister is a Siberian cobalt bead that Aaluk gave her before she left. In 1989, Nutaaq's great-grandaughter Blessing, whose Inupiac name is Nutaaq, has a difficult life in Anchorage with her alcoholic mother. Sent to her grandmother in Barrow, Blessing gradually...more
Nancy
A beautiful history of Inupiat (native Alaskan) culture told from the point of view of 2 women. The great-grandmother, Aaluk, remembers her childhood when her family traveled to the annual trade fair on the mainland and the Siberians came from what is now Russia. One of these Siberians will take Aaluk back to his village as his partner. Aaluk's yonger sister, Nutaaq remains and will eventually experience a horrible disaster that will all but eliminate her village.

The other part of this novel is...more
Catie Schwartz
This 2010 NBGS book follows an Alaskan Eskimo family through generations of obstacles and secrets. The story is told first by Nutaaq, a young woman who survives the influenza in the early 1900s and must start over when most of her family succumbs to the disease. Nutaaq's great granddaughter Blessing tells the rest of the story, picking up in 1989. Blessing's present takes her into Nutaaq's past, and family secrets are revealed.
I loved this book because it showed me a culture that I knew nothing...more
Mike
This is a type of historical fiction book. The story depicts the hardships of living in Alaska and the lost of identity, which is something very prominent in America with the mixing of cultures. Blessing is not aware of her roots and feels like an outcast in her community. It is not until she finds a blue bead that her grandmother tells her the story of her sister and makes Blessing feel part of her culture and proud of her roots. This book to me is very relevant because I went through something...more
Nina Gayle
Part of this tale takes place in Alaska in 1913 and part in Alaska, 1989. It is the story of two sisters, Nutaaq and Aaluk, separated when Aaluk marries a Siberian. When the Communists take over, this sister can no longer come back to visit her family as promised. Nutaaq's great granddaughter and namesake, Nutaaq, also known as Blessing, and her brother have to return to live with her grandmother when her mother is hospitalized after being physically abused.

This book includes an abbreviated fami...more
Sandra Stiles
This is the story of Nutaaq a young Inupiaq girl who watches as her sister leaves the trading camp as a married woman. Sickness comes and wipes out most of Nutaaq's mother's village, including her parents. An English speaking man comes and gathers the survivors and pairs them for marriage. The second part of the book deals with Nutaaq's great-grand-daughter. Seventy-two years have gone by and Blessing, whose Inupiaq's name is Nutaaq, and her brother Tupaaq, named after his great-grandfather find...more
Deanna
Historical fiction, family, cultural identity, Inupiaq Eskimos.

There are two stories in this novel. The first takes place in 1917 where 2 sisters, Aaluk and Nutaaq, live with their family in Alaska. The oldest sibling meets and marries a Siberian Eskimo at a yearly trade fair in Sheshalik. The youngest, Nutaaq, along with her parents return to the family home where a flu ravages many Eskimo villages.

The second story set during 1989 portrays Nuttaq's granddaughter, Blessing, who is learning abou...more
Miste
Okay YA book about natave Alaskan family. Starts out in the early 1900s around the time of the Spanish Influenza which wiped out whole villages about two sisters in a remote part of Alaska. How they become separated when one decides to marry into a tribe from across the Bering Sea. Then the influenza takes the remaining sister's whole family. Then the story shifts to more present day to the great-grandaughter who is reconnecting with here native culture when she is suddenly sent to live with her...more
Kirsten Buckmaster
I teach in village Alaska and have run into some of the cultural nuances described in this novel. I will be using it as part if a reading unit next year and hope that the kids will find personal connections to the story.
Leslee
Mar 16, 2012 Leslee added it
Nutaaq and her brother Tupaaq go and live with their grandparents in Alaska, their parents getting help with alcohol and abuse problems. Nutaaw and Tupaaq learn about their Eskimo heritage and really learn to appreciate as well as love the environment that their grandparents live in. The siblings learn to love who they are, native or not.

The cobalt blue bead is significant throughout the story, getting passed down from generation to generation, and showing Nutaaq what it really means to be Eskim...more
Rad
When you start this book - or I guess when you get past the first part - you're not sure how the first part relates to the rest of the book, aside from being historical background. While you read this book, you're not quite sure where it's going to go, until about ten pages from the end. Then the whole thing wraps up so gloriously that you want to move to Alaska and eat seal fat forever. (This book made me so hungry.)

LauraW
I have lived in Alaska for nearly 7 years now and this book has given me better insight into Native ways than any other. I think it was due to the fact that the main narrator, Blessing/Nutaaq, is both an outsider and an insider. I love the raising eyebrows thing, for instance. I am a substitute teacher and have taught quite a few Alaska Natives, but I didn't know about that. I enjoyed the story, too.
Marilyn
Mar 22, 2010 Marilyn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 6th - 9th grade, also adults
A little confusing for me at first (mostly because of the reuse of Inuit names through the generations of the family portrayed) but once I got into the story, I liked it. I enjoyed the meshing of the old culture with the new and the descriptions of how the thawing of the cold war changed people's lives for the better. This would be a good choice for historical fiction reports in middle school/ junior high.
Sherry
This is a heartbreaking quick read. The author does an excellent job of making us appreciate our own cultural identities. The protagonist is a young Alaskan Native girl who has lost touch with her own culture only to be forced into a place where she is intrigued and looks at life in a new way. The reader will celebrate her discovery and the lovely ending.
Paola
I thought this was a good book. The book tells about how the girl, Blessing, gets hold of a bead and the story behind the bead and her family history. It's setting is in Alaska around the 1980's it does go to Eruope for a little part of the book but not all of it. I would recommend this book to a reader that would just want a book for light reading.
Crystal
I really did enjoy this book, but had a hard time getting into it at the beginning and then again when I started the second part with new characters. Once I got to know the characters a bit, I really settled into the story and appreciated the sense of place.
Hanalei1208 Be
Blessing is a girl who lives in Alaska with her mom who is an alcoholic and needs to recover. Temporarily Blessing will live with her grandmother in a small northern town in Alaska where she learns about her ancestors which make her more confident.
Kari
Loved this story! The author's use of the blue bead as an endowed object is fantastic. The insight into the Inupiaq people of Alaska is rich, interesting. The story felt as if it were told with great love and respect.
Vilo
This is a fabulous YA novel exploring Inuit history, culture and family as affected by the Cold War. Not a word is wasted but there are many things that keep me thinking days after I finished.
Brenda
Wonderfully touching story about a young girl named Blessing who discovers her family heritage in the Alaskan country. I would highly recommend this book for middle school students and libraries.
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1044122
My name is Debby and I am a writer. I write stories for young people.

If you haven't seen me, it's because I live far far away and do, indeed, write from the top of the world: Barrow, Alaska, to be exact, the northernmost community on the North American Continent.

I've lived here pretty much all of my adult life—thirty years (don’t do the math!) and this place and its people have shaped who I am as...more
More about Debby Dahl Edwardson...
My Name is Not Easy Whale Snow Whale Snow/Uqsruagnaq (English - Inupiaq Bilingual Edition) Whale Snow/Uqsruagnaq (English - Inupiaq Bilingual Edition)

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