A Bend in the Breeze
A Bend in the Breeze
Up until the day upon which our story begins, the people of TeJÉ had never had a visitor. Not once. Not ever.
This fact was not known to the girl who had just reached the island’s shores. Alone and frightened, she stood there for several moments, trying desperately to compose herself. When she felt steady enough to venture inland, she did so with hesitating steps, never suspecting that the trail of footprints she left behind marked an event of great significance.
The girl whose small feet had made these imprints was called Pascale Chardon.
Eleven-year-old Pascale Chardon is desperate. She was lost at sea and has drifted for days. When she lands on an island, she hopes to reunite with her family. She must overcome her natural shyness to find some help on the island. She walks inland and finds a home belonging to the Riverstone family. At first, the family is shocked because they have never seen a stranger on their island. Pascale introduces herself and tells them her story. Mrs. Riverstone is kind and even tries to get rid of the bug in Pascale’s hair. The bug turns out to be Inch, a beetle that has kept Pascale company on her treacherous boat journey to the island. Pascale has now become his protector.
The Riverstone family escorts Pascale to the Village Elders because of the Authority of Trust rule which demands that any stranger be taken to them immediately. The Elders govern TeJÉ in the Place of Matters, the community meeting hall. They will determine if Pascale is the mythical Long Awaited. According to island legend, this stranger would arrive on a “bend in the breeze” to determine the future of the people of TeJÉ. If the stranger found peace and happiness, the happiness of the people would continue, but, if the stranger found conflict, there would be misery. Everyone on the island wonders whether Pascale is the Long Awaited.
Pascale is an interesting character who must learn to deal with the myriad of changes in her life. She is shy but must learn to confront an entirely new community in order to survive. When she is confronted with conflict from the Riverstone children, she makes her own decision to stay at the home of blind Mrs. Wintercreek. She does not believe she is the Long Awaited but realizes that others may think she is the one. She longs to rejoin her family and does everything possible to do so. She is only 11-years-old, but she acts much older and wiser despite the problems she encounters. Most of all, she is a survivor,
This fantasy novel may remind some readers of the Disney movie Moana because of the remote island location and the isolated community. There are some interesting passages about life in this remote civilization that time has forgotten. Some readers may have practical difficulties with the storyline. It is highly unlikely that the villagers speak exactly the same language as Pascale. The role of Inch the beetle is also improbable. However, once you accept these improbabilities, the narrative is gentle and well-written. There are a number of interesting topics to discuss: survival, education, community, mythology, empathy, marriage, death, friendship, envy, mindfulness, love, peace, conflict, honesty, and prophecy. Pascale leaves readers of A Bend in the Breeze with several strong messages about our society: “Always share what you have with others who are less fortunate”, “Be more mindful of what I have and not what I am missing” and “I will never again take anything for granted, if only I can go back to where I belong.”
Myra Junyk, a resident of Toronto, Ontario, is a literacy advocate and author.