Debby Dahl Edwardson

writing from the top of the world


"Concrete and symbolic references to the transforming power of language, names, and stories link the two narratives, but it’s the Nutaaqs’ rhythmic, indelible voices—both as steady and elemental as the beat of a drum or a heart—that will move readers most. A unique, powerful debut."

⎯Booklist, Starred Review

“An outstanding novel. Every young person and adult shoud read this page-turning look into the culture of the Inupiaq Eskimos. It is both a compelling and enriching tale.”

⎯Jean Craighead George, author of the Newbery medal book Julie of the Wolves

“The writing in Blessing’s Bead is beautiful, and the stories feel true. Debby Dahl Edwardson perfectly captures how life—especially family life—can be awful and wonderful at the same time.”

—Junior Library Guild

This touching story of generations of one Alaskan family may leave readers in tears by the end. …. richly told in the tradition of storytelling and its characters grow up in and come to love.”

—ALAN Online

“Edwardson treads an elegant line in her perspective: Blessing is both an insider—Iñupiaq—and an outsider still learning exactly what that means. It’s a perspective that allows any reader in, and they’ll learn much about the power of stories and names and how to use them both.”

— Kirkus

Blessing's Bead


"This is how I imagine them: two sisters, standing together on an island cliff, dark hair waving in the wind. Waiting.

If I close my eyes I can even hear them speak, just as they speak in Nutaaq’s stories. For my mother, Nutaaq, was a real storyteller. When Nutaaq tells this story you can almost smell the smoke from the old men’s pipes, almost feel the excitement of two young girls cawing across the tundra, like gulls, wanting to be first to spread the news: They come! They come! The Siberians have come . . ."

. . . a beautiful blue bead connects two Inupiaq girls from different generations in a novel that celebrates the power of story and language to reconnect a family torn apart by tragedy.

The year is 1917. Two sisters living in a remote village in arctic Alaska are about to be separated. Forever. Aaluk will marry a handsome stranger—a rich Siberian with a string of powerful blue beads everyone wants. Nutaaq will be left behind, clutching two of those beads—two beads to remember two sisters by—on the eve of the Great Death.

Flash forward to 1989, the end of the Cold War. Nutaaq's great granddaughter Blessing is running. Her life has been torn apart by domestic violence and she is leaving the city to live in a remote Alaskan village with a grandmother she barely knows. But Blessing's Inupiaq name is Nutaaq, after her great-grandmother, and a name is a powerful thing...and a single blue bead can hold many stories.

My Writing

" extraordinary tale of love, betrayal, and above all, survival." Ellen Levine
Writing for Young People
a novel for young people about love, loss and finding your way home.
A celebration of family and community.