This long awaited sequel to Candy Gourlay’s Bone Talk, has her characters leave the Philippines and travel to the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis. They are a few years older, but still the same young people they were. Luki is still as feisty and independent minded, and she certainly does not want to be married off, even to her best friend Samkad.
Now that the Americans have penetrated deeper into the Philippines, they come up with more ideas of what they might do to the natives, who have a perfectly good system of their own that they live by. But the thing here is that Truman Hunt, the US doctor, manages to persuade these young people to voluntarily leave their country and come with him to the Fair, where he intends to ‘exhibit’ these human beings, alongside people from other parts of the world. Whereas they believe they are going to meet the President, because he wants to see them, especially.
The cynical and knowing reader understands that all will not be well. What I liked was that Luki, despite being ‘innocent’, is also capable of working out that things are not what they were led to believe. She is strong, and she stands by what she believes in.
In a way you can’t blame the visitors to the Fair for their beliefs about these savages who eat dogs. They have been told lies, because why else would they come and gawk at other human beings like this? And there are always people hoping to take advantage of others. But there are also some very strong characters who stand up for what is right, for others who need their help.
This story feels particularly right today, when so many people think they are better than others, often because of their skin colour or their perceived lack of sophistication.
Wild Song shows there can still be hope. And in the midst of what is done to these Filipino visitors, I loved the humour of Luki’s reaction when she discovers Samkad boarding the ship in Manila. She’s no ordinary teenager.
Or maybe she is.
Teenagers are amazing and I can imagine any number of teenagers I know doing what Luki did 🙂
Thank you, Witch, for this lovely review.