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Blessing's Bead

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  173 Ratings  ·  53 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
ebook, 192 pages
Published November 10th 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published September 10th 2009)
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Ana Rînceanu
Blessing's Bead follows two sisters (Nutaaq and her older sister, Aaluk) living during the pre-mechanized days of the Iñupiaq (1917) and then switches to 1989, when Nutaaq/Blessing, living in Anchorage with her grandma and younger brother Tupaaq/Issac. The latter siblings have been moved by Social Security from her mother and boyfriend due to domestic violence, gambling and alcoholism.

Two girls in different worlds, separated by time, but connected by the same name. The first one needs to grow up
Oct 27, 2010 Kathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
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
really liked this book!
the author did an amazing job writing descriptive paragraphs, but i felt myself more drawn to the story, which was not really written about too much.
i think that author might have been going for that, but i still wish that there was some extension of what happened with the original nutaaq and tupaaq, but i really enjoyed the story nonetheless!
it was super interesting to read the history aspect of the inupiaq eskimos. i loved learning every detail and story in the book.
Jun 07, 2010 Briony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bfya, multicultural
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
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.
Jun 12, 2012 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 30, 2010 Becky marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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."
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
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
Sep 09, 2010 Phoebe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 08, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Chrisann Justice
Aug 23, 2014 Chrisann Justice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alaskan-native
One of the biggest issues I see in times where language and culture are rapidly changing is that there is a greater disconnect between generations. I loved the way this book showed connections between different generations of Iñupiat people even though so many aspects of life have changed between each generation. We often forget that we are not the trappings of the time we live in. We are more alike than different and this goes for all of us everywhere and not just those of us trying to connect ...more
Dec 02, 2013 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
Sep 09, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Catie Schwartz
Nov 25, 2012 Catie Schwartz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Lyrical style. Beautiful story although it took a while to get into it and figure out what was going on. Although, the revelations coincided with the main character's understanding of the situation she was in as well.

I'm not sure why I didn't realize until I finished that I had read another book by this author a couple of years - My Name is Not Easy. I know very little about native Alaskans but I felt like the author did a good job of telling the story, sharing the significance of the names and
Jul 08, 2011 Miste rated it liked it
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
Jan 20, 2010 Deanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Blessing and her brother Isaac leave Anchorage to live with their grandmother on an Alaskan island after a domestic violence incident between her mother and boyfriend Stephan. Blessing feels out of place in this distant, spartan village where everyone seems to be a relative even though she's never met them. It is the place however, where Blessing discovers her culture and feels a part of her tribe in a way she never did before. The author married into the Iñupiaq culture and there seems to be a ...more
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
Dec 19, 2014 Synnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
It was very moving. I loved how the perspective was split between two people with the same name. The part I didn't like was the "Village English". I can't stand hearing/reading improper sentance structure. Double negatives, left out words, etc really really bothers me, even though I'm well aware that's the way people speak. I understand though that in books, its written to capture the character. That's my only complaint. I enjoyed the book and the way beads came into play within the culture.
Mar 26, 2010 LauraW rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tween, middle-grades
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.
Mar 22, 2010 Marilyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 17, 2013 Rad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.)

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.
Apr 10, 2016 Pita-eater rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This sometimes sad but thoroughly warm book is so good, like savory soup on a cold, snowy day. It reminded me of the books The Whale Rider and Obasan, both culturally rooted stories told in lyrical prose and with compelling main characters. This story follows two Inupiaq (Eskimo) sisters in 1971 and then later tells the story of one sister's great-granddaughter in 1989.
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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 about Debby Dahl Edwardson...

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