Praise

Beautiful . . . Through such delicate merging of environmental and individual trauma, Soundings births a raw, intimate narrative about nature’s capacity to mend – and justifies its place alongside modern nature writing classics, such as Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk. — India Bourke ― New Statesman, Best Books of 2022 So Far

Wonderful … both frank and fearless. — Michael Kerr ― Telegraph Best Travel Books of the Year

In an everchanging world threatened by climate change, whales have learned to adapt. Irish British author Doreen Cunningham takes that notion to heart. Jennifer Nalewicki ― Smithsonian Magazine The Ten Best Books About Travel 2022

A striking, brave and often lyrical book that defies easy interpretation . . . Her sensuous descriptions of grey whales and humpbacks provide some of the book’s richest passages . . . She is no Ahab; it is not a single whale to which she is drawn, but the collective, and in the end the whales act as stepping-stones, bridges to human relationships on her journey, notably with other women and mothers. What at first seems a reckless, near-mystical pursuit of an imagined being leads her to find a human pod of her own. ― Edward Posnett ― The Guardian, Book of the Day

A failed relationship and resulting professional and financial ruin compel former climate journalist Cunningham to make a bold move. Taking out a bank loan, she travels with her young son along the migration route of the grey whales, from Mexico to the Canadian Arctic, back to a family of Iñupiaq whale hunters who took her in as one of their own years earlier on a research trip. Cunningham’s honouring of the hunters’ culture is nuanced by this entanglement, and the endless wait of the whale hunt is made fascinating by her quiet observations. The protagonists make a deeply refreshing triad: a single mother travelling with her child, learning from the whales how to parent.Sarah Thomas ― The Guardian, Top Ten Nature Memoirs

An original, unexpectedly pacey blend of memoir and nature writing. Whether observing how the ceteceans are threatened by global warming, delving into the lives of the Inupiaq or sharing personal struggles, Cunningham brings a sensitivity to the page. This is a moving riposte to those who offer atomised perspectives on the natural world.Jini Reddy ― Metro, The Best Books to Read about the Environment and Climate Change

An extraordinary odyssey. — Sainsbury’s Magazine

The pair are informative and entertaining company. The beauty of whales, and in particular the bonds between mothers and their young are touchingly evoked. Cunningham brings insight and flair to her subject. Her account of climate-change denial is hard-hitting… the book’s many strands are intricately woven together. For all the beauty, Soundings is also, inevitably, a story of survival in the face of environmental destruction, of facing an uncertain future. — Times Literary Supplement

Cunningham’s drive to better understand the whales is compelled partly by a reporter’s curiosity, but even more so it is the cascade of personal details, stretching back to her childhood, that ensures that this is as much memoir as science narrative. With a light touch and artful prose, Cunningham’s primary message of compassion comes through, a perspective readers are sure to respond to.  — Booklist

Doreen Cunningham captures the scope of the world, the grandeur of whales and the direct relationship between the two. We see our fragility, how short life truly is for the human animal and yet the degree of change wrought on the planet by our actions. Experiencing all this through her eyes has been a thrill: a brave, frightening wondrous ride from a woman who not only dares question but pushes back against systems that tell her no. — Chikọdili Emelumadu, Author of Dazzling.

Soundings got under my skin. It was as if I’d joined Doreen and her young son on their search for grey whales, and we’d been through something important together. I finished it in tears.’ ― Amy Liptrot, author of The Outrun and The Instant

What a woman and what a tale! It is a rare gift to be taken on a journey by a single mother with her child and the particular perspective that offers. This is a story about living and loving at the sharp end of climate change, and learning to listen, and wait.  I loved this book. Sensitive, sincere, and heart-warming. ― Sarah Thomas, author of The Raven’s Nest

Doreen’s is a thrilling, passionate and tenderhearted adventure. I read this book in one sitting, and couldn’t sleep that night – my mind was still filled with her extraordinary endurance, her wild spirit. ― Helen Jukes, author of A Honeybee Heart has Five Openings

What a voice! What a book! Pounding with the power of thrashing flukes, shivering with Arctic ice, yet suffused with rare human warmth. A book worthy of its mighty subjects. ― Charles Foster, author of Being a Human

Beautiful and brave, and startling in its raw emotional honesty. ― Neil Ansell, author of Deep Country and The Circling Sky

This stunning book blends nature writing of the most urgent kind with precise and poetic observation of human tribulation and the interconnectedness of all things. Fresh, brave and unique ― Damian le Bas, author of The Stopping Places

Soundings stuns with its bravery and lyricism. This is a book to be devoured. ― Ramita Navai, author of City of Lies

Cunningham’s scientific knowledge and gorgeous prose take us on an extraordinary journey as she forges a remarkable connection with these astonishing creatures and issues an impassioned plea for our shared futures. Soundings is a completely unique, unforgettable book. ― Erica Wagner

An intimate and fascinating story of one woman’s journey with our most charismatic species ― Mark Boyle, author of The Way Home

Beautifully written, insightful and gripping ― Daniel Lavelle, author of Down and Out

In this fascinating book, Doreen Cunningham takes us on an intimate journey through a world already changed by climate change. As her own travel companions become ours – the indigenous people of Utqiagvik, the whales of the Pacific, the world’s scientists and her little son Max – we learn that it is only by coming together as people and species that we will be able to navigate our way ahead in the vast troubled waters of our shared future. ― Sjón, author of The Whispering Muse

This book is a gorgeous journey. Cunningham guides us elegantly from Mexico to Alaska, riding along with wild grey whales. And she excels as well at bringing the reader along on her personal journey of motherhood, struggle, and epiphany. You will be glad you’ve joined her. ― Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief

A raw and rapturous work of nature writing. Or is it memoir? Adventure journalism? Pop science? Climate cri de coeurThis foul-mouthed, gimlet-eyed, big-hearted chimera of a book is all of those – and more. ― Robert Moor, bestselling author of On Trails: An Exploration

Throughout her journey from Mexico to Alaska following the gray whale, Doreen Cunningham develops what can only be described as a spiritual relationship with the gray whales. Readers will be further enriched by her ability to seamlessly integrate traditional Indigenous knowledge and science of the sea, ice, and world of the Iñupiat who hunt the mammoth baleen whales.Rosita Kaaháni Worl, PhD, president of the Sealaska Heritage Institute

A spellbinding journey of discovery told with deep sensitivity and honesty. ― Dr. Edith Widder, CEO and senior scientist of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association

I see in Doreen Cunningham a kindred spirit. Her experience in Arctic Alaska is one I recognize, with individuals I know and love. Written with a sure hand and an unfailing eye for the right detail, Cunningham’s prose sings. This is a journey well worth taking. —Debby Dahl Edwardson, author of Blessing’s Bead and My Name Is Not Easy

Soundings is a story of whales and people, of kinship and questing, and, perhaps most of all, of the connections among our human selves and across species. With a lyrical voice and tremendous emotional honesty, Doreen Cunningham defies genre and skips easy romance to bring us a cetacean journey—and a journey into the tough, transformative stuff of making community in this beautiful, harsh, and changeable world. — Bathsheba Demuth, PhD, author of Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait