I absolutely loved The Wordsmith by Patricia Forde, the first in this post-apocalyptic series (read my review here) so when I heard there was a standalone sequel, Mother Tongue, I was delighted to read it and participate in this blog tour. Today, I’ll be sharing my review and a timely guest post from the author focusing on the issues at the heart of this upper middle-grade novel. Published by Little Island Books, Mother Tongue continues the story of Letta’s fight against injustice in a world unrecognisable after a climate disaster. Language is a weapon and hope and creativity the only defence in this dystopian novel that feels all too real.
Mother Tongue by Patricia Forde
After global warming came the Melting. Then came Ark. The new dictator of Ark wants to silence speech for ever. But Letta is the wordsmith, tasked with keeping words alive. Out in the woods, she and the rebels secretly teach children language, music and art. Now there are rumours that babies are going missing. When Letta makes a horrifying discovery, she has to find a way to save the children of Ark – even if it is at the cost of her own life.
Whilst it is quite possible to read Mother Tongue as a standalone novel, the book brilliantly follows on from the narrative of the first story and reaffirms the role Letta, the Wordsmith, must play in restoring freedom to her world. John Noa might be gone, but the new leader of Ark is even more fearsome and will stop at nothing to control the people through taking their words. But Letta, equally determined and incredibly brave, knows that in order to save the people, she must fight for their words – their voice. Whilst she has much to lose, the tension-building plot shows Letta’s true heroism as she battles injustice alongside her fellow ‘Desecrators’. Totally enthralling, Mother Tongue invites you to return to a world where the horror of climate change has been realised but despite the despair, the hope of humanity lives on in Letta and her friends. A truly riveting read, you download an extract here.
I’m delighted to welcome author Patricia Forde to the blog with a thought-provoking guest post on what extinction really means.
“Extinction is the saddest word of all.
So says John Noa, ruler of Ark in my novel The Wordsmith. And he should know. As both The Wordsmith and its companion novel Mother Tongue are set in the future, Noa is in a position to judge. This story takes place after The Melting when almost all of the world has been swallowed by the sea. Rising tides have taken people, technology and almost all hope from Earth. For the small group of people who survive and live in Ark, there is plenty of time to consider the mess that humans created, on their home planet.
When I was growing up, dinosaurs were extinct. That was about the only time I heard that word being used. While doing research for my novels, I did a lot of research about climate change and its effect on this planet. Scientists tell us that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals. This is the sixth wave of extinction in the last half-billion years. Extinction, we are told, in a natural phenomenon. It occurs at a rate of about one to five species per year.
When I read that, I had to pause to take a breath. That many?
Then I read on.
Today we are losing species at up to 1,000 times that rate with many species becoming extinct every day. That’s why they are calling it an Extinction Crisis. Did you know that there are two subspecies of giraffe on the endangered list? Illegal hunting and the disappearance of habitat has been blamed. Translated, that means that humans are to blame.
The blue whale is in danger because she eats mostly krill and requires massive amounts of it. Unfortunately, we humans have developed a taste for krill. Increasing demands for krill oil by humans could sound the death knell for the poor whale.
It’s the inter-connectivity of nature that we are ignoring. Take insects. Small, often scary and very quiet generally. We interact with insects usually with a rolled up newspaper or a cocktail of deadly chemicals but they are our waste management team. At life end, plants and animals of all sizes, from daisy to dinosaur, leave dead organic matter that has to be cleared away. Bring on millions of munching insects and the processes of decomposition and decay, so critical to life on Earth, can get started. We wouldn’t last long without them.
Way back in 1987 renowned Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson wrote:
The truth is that we need invertebrates but they don’t need us … if invertebrates were to disappear, I doubt that the human species could live more than a few months.
How did we miss that? As I write we are living under a storm alert and it’s all people can talk about. Will trees come down? Will the lights go out? Will there be enough bread to last 48 hours? But when a renowned scientist says that if we keep killing insects we could all be wiped out in a few months – no! We didn’t hear that.
We moved from the city to a house in the country in 2004. Our house is surrounded by trees. We were under constant attack from midges the first years we were here. Every summer, as soon as the weather warmed up and the barbeque was taken out, in came swarms of midges. Neighbours assured us that they would be devoured by the bats who lived in the old shed at the back of our site. For the last two summers we’ve had hot weather and no midges. I can’t say I’ve missed them but I liked the bats and now I’m wondering what they fed on this summer and where the midges have gone?
That’s how extinction works, I suppose. First they come for the midges, then it’s the bats, and before you know it, the giraffe is on the endangered list.
Extinction is the saddest word but there’s still time to turn things around. According to National Geographic, there were only 2,000 sea otters extant in 1911, due to years of hunting this lovely creature for its fur. Today, globally, the figure has rebounded to 100,000. We have stronger laws and greater protection enacted in the North Pacific to thank for this miracle. So we can do it. It’s not too late. But to quote Greta Thunberg – the house is on fire.
We didn’t listen in 1987. Are we listening now?”
Find out more about Patricia Forde at www.patriciaforde.com and find her on Twitter @PatriciaForde1; on Instagram @TrishForde1.
With thanks to Little Island Books for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in this blog tour. Check out the rest of the tour: