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May I Suggest ...

;Herons Poynte,' by g.m.o. callaghan

AKWESASNE, N.Y. - ''Herons Poynte,'' a novel by g.m.o. (George) Callaghan, is an explorative story about American Indian lineage and history, the role of the environment in both present-day society and in the past, and the corrupt values of a rich and powerful family in the Chesapeake Bay area.

David Waterfield, the story's protagonist, is a young, enthusiastic pupil who earns a spot at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he begins to unravel secrets about the history of his people - the Choptank. He has grown up knowing very little about his Choptank heritage; but as he comes of age, he realizes more and more that there's a part of himself he needs to explore.

As the story develops, both Waterfield and the reader are introduced to the Blackburn family, whose own direct ancestors may have been responsible for the disappearance of the Choptank people. As Waterfield begins his research and exploration, he learns more and more about the tainted values of the Blackburns and he takes careful steps to bring them to justice.

Callaghan, a documentary filmmaker and environmentalist from Maryland, began writing ''Herons Poynte'' 18 years ago. One day while out on the bay, he created the plot and characters and took his time developing the story into a novel.

''Many of the details were conjured up in my dreams,'' he said. ''I would wake up each morning with a number of scribbled notes to add to the story.''

In creating the honest and sincere character of Waterfield, Callaghan said he wanted him to be ''a person in tune with nature, respectful of his ancestors, and determined to set things right.''

To write ''Herons Poynte,'' Callaghan did his own research of the Choptank people, who are not well-known.

''What happened to them?'' Callaghan asks. ''Some were killed, some died of disease, some went to live with neighboring tribes ... and some undoubtedly migrated ... their history has been lost to us. But emotionally speaking, I think that we can all relate to the losses they suffered.''

Despite the novel's strong Native backdrop, Callaghan himself is Irish.

''As an Irishman whose people were forced off their land by English conquerors, I think I can empathize with what happened to the first inhabitants of this country,'' he said. ''Some feelings are universal.''

Review

''Herons Poynte,'' a 500-plus page novel, deeply unravels a story of environmental injustice, theft of Native lands, and American greed while sending a young man down a road of self-discovery. The story has elements of a great American novel. It has suspense; it has love; it has a hero.

Waterfield's exploration is not unlike the adventures described in ''The Da Vinci Code'' by Dan Brown. Both stories use ancient artifacts and modern discoveries to tell their stories of secrets dating back hundreds of years. While ''The Da Vinci Code'' explores events that might have occurred around the time of Jesus Christ, ''Herons Poynte'' explores the much more recent secrets of white pilgrimage to the North American continent and the subsequent genocide of Native people and their culture.

The love for the story's protagonist is not immediate. Instead, we're gradually shown Waterfield's good nature and honest soul. He is the type of young man you'd like to pass on the sidewalk in your own hometown. Callaghan develops Waterfield's character skillfully. By the novel's final chapters, we're not ready to say goodbye.

While the themes of the novel are quite apparent even in the first few pages, the author connects the story to anyone looking for a thoughtful read. Waterfield's Native lineage brings a fresh approach to the issues of pollution and corporate power.

The author's personal experiences with the Chesapeake Bay area are a gift to the reader. The land serves as the life of this novel, moving it along calmly and allowing readers to take in every word at their own pace. It isn't a book that should be read in one day, but readers might find ''Herons Poynte'' to be the perfect reading material for a lightly breezy day in a hammock.

Callaghan is already in the midst of writing a sequel to ''Herons Poynte,'' which he hopes will be available to readers next May.

''Herons Poynte'' can be purchased at www.heronspoynte.com.