Front Cover
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003 - Coming of age - 268 pages

I am prey, caught in a spider's web. Every time the spider creeps, he makes me whirl around and around. My life is spinning without me. I cling to the web with my hands and feet.

I look for a place to leap.

Nana's future is certain, and she dreads it. Daughter of a proud Kwakiutl chief, she will become a weaver, marry the son of a chief from another tribe, and leave her beloved home forever. Nanolatch, Nana's twin brother, will be chief one day, and he welcomes it. He will be a warrior and a strong leader, just like his father. Together, the twins will enter their initiation to adulthood, and fulfill the roles that have been determined for them since the day they were born.

But when the chief leads a warring party to destroy another tribe's village and capture a slave, the fortunes of the Kwakiutl tribe begin to turn. Convinced that they must make amends, the chief casts about for a way to undo the curse that has descended on their people.

The young slave, Noh, has been mute since the day she was torn from her village. Daughter of a shaman, she has already seen visions of the twins. Only gradually does she understand that her own emergence as a shaman is inextricably linked with the twins and their approaching initiation. Through her sympathy for Nana and her growing love for Nanolatch, she understands that she must help them fulfill their true destiny. But can she save them, knowing that it will take a terrible sacrifice to restore them all to their rightful place?

Set on the West Coast of North America during the fifteenth century, Initiation is a powerful story of a proud tribe, the Spirit World that guides them, and the universal struggle of three extraordinary young people on the brink of adulthood.

Cover design and vignettes by Paul Morin.

Awards and Nominations:

Winner of the Silver Birch Award

Winner of the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction

UNESCO International Youth Library - White Raven Award special mention, 2004

Shortlist for the 2004 Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award

2005 Snow Willow Award Nominee

Shortlisted for the 2004 Sunburst Award

Kiriyama Prize Notable

Red Cedar Award shortlist

Stellar Award nominee

Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award Nominee 2005

From inside the book


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3

13 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)

Virginia Frances Schwartz is the author of three historical novels, including Messenger and Send One Angel Down, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and winner of a Parent's Choice Gold Award. Born in Ontario, Canada, Virginia now lives in New York City, where she teaches writing to elementary school children. Paul Morin, an accomplished painter, sculptor and musician is also the illustrator of a number of children's books. He has also received 25 international awards for his book illustrations. In addition, Paul has won many accolades for his work, including ten awards from the Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators, and a nomination for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Mr. Morin now lives near Rockwood, Ontario.

Bibliographic information