Lane Education Service District Review - Kalyna's Song

Lane Education Service District
Reviewed by: Connie Ewing

This lovely novel tells the story of Ukrainians living in western Canada, from the point of view of teenager Colleen. She is a gifted singer and performs at parties, weddings, anniversaries, and a big festival competition of Ukrainian teens. She experiences all the usual insecurities. Her mom teaches Ukrainian (language, arts, etc.) at the grade school, and although Colleen's parents are proud of their heritage, they want to blend in with their neighbours -so they give their kids English names, they don't go to the Greek Orthodox Church (except for weddings and funerals) and they don't speak their native language at home.

Colleen's mentally unstable cousin is Kalyna, who has the Ukrainian version of Colleen's name. This story follows Colleen through her growing up and learning to make some important decisions for herself. She leaves Canada for a years internship in Africa, thinking that time away from all she's familiar with will help her find her true path. Cultural identity vs. 'fitting in'. is the main theme, but searching for personal identity within the cultural context isn't easy for young people.

Colleen's self-confidence and thoughtful nature, as well as her fabulous singing voice help her progress through the difficulties of separating from her parents while respecting their choices and identity. Readers will learn a great deal about Ukrainian culture and history. Article by Connie Ewing.

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