The Summer the Wales Sang


165 pages
ISBN 0-88862-904-4




Reviewed by Sheila Martindale

Sheila Martindale is poetry editor of Canadian Author and Bookman and
author of No Greater Love, her sixth collection of poetry.


This is an interesting book for at least two reasons. First, there is a great deal of informative background material on the Basque whalers who settled in Labrador in the sixteenth century, but it blends in well with the story so that readers do not feel they are being “educated.” Secondly, the 13-year-old protagonist does “fall in love,” but the novel is more concerned with the fact that she becomes comfortable with her own identity and family background than with the romantic side of things.

Vivi Aguirre’s Basque immigrant father feels inadequate in comparison with his clever and glamourous wife, Ana. He is not with Vivi and her mother during this particular summer, while Ana makes a documentary film about an archeological dig. Vivi misses him and has time to ponder the tensions that exist between her parents. Meanwhile, there are negative feelings between Vivi and Perry Morris, a teenage resident of Red Bay, the locale of the narrative. And the man for whom Vivi experiences the first pangs of puppy love is more interested in the vivacious Ana.

This is all set against the backdrop of the wild Atlantic and the hardy people who inhabit its coastline. The story is fast-paced and exciting, the dialogue believable, and the varying emotions of the young Vivi are well depicted. Highly recommended for the grade five to eight group.


Montero, Gloria, “The Summer the Wales Sang,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 12, 2024,