Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Published: May 2015
Thirteen-year-old Niilo's unruly behaviour means his loving parents sent him to Wild School, a young offender's unit on an island in the Finnish archipelago. Angry at first, eventually he comes to enjoy being there and builds a close relationship with his mentor, Hannu, who helps him face his demons and overcome his lifelong fear of water. But when Niilo hears Hannu is leaving, he is so upset he decides to run away. Escaping is one thing, but living alone in the wild is completely different and it tests Niilo to the utmost, especially as his fear of water still haunts him.
With the help of a seal, Hannu eventually finds Niilo, but on the way back to Wild School Niilo is thrown into the water and experiences a revelation that will change his life for the better.
What I Have to Say
This story was magical. At the start, I wasn't sure what to make of it, but I loved all the things about Laplander tradition and the Sami people. It added something really interesting to make it more than a simple coming of age story. It turned it from a story of an unruly misfit into a story of truama, identity and a touch of magic.
I've never known that much about Lapland or Finland, so it was all a new field for me. But now I feel I want to know more. I want to hear the songs that the Sami people sing. I think Mackay portrayed them really well in the book, she made them something magical and ancient while still understandable to the average reader.
I really liked Hannu's character too. He was so good for Niilo. Often I don't like stories about therapy, but Hannu's stories and attitude really made it something.
Also, the seal. Every one should read it just for the wonderful seal.