“Beyond the Human Realm” by Gene Helfman

Beyond the Human Realm

Gene Helfman
Luminare Press (2021)
ISBN 9781643886596
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (01/2022)

This incredible book is an intriguing and important nature drama where the main character is an orca. Entertaining and informative, the story is grounded in realism; beginning in an interesting way, the plot gets even better as it moves forward. The characters we meet have distinct personalities, and the author shows his skill as he builds those characters and makes them seem like living, breathing people instead of caricatures. The adventurous spirit of the book is attractive, and you’ll find yourself emotionally invested almost immediately. In addition, if you like a little romance on the side, you’ll find it in this story, but it isn’t the main theme. As you read, you will get a real sense of the messages embedded, especially the ones addressing our diminishing biosphere. You are presented with a well-rounded approach to environmental issues, from different angles that you may have never considered before. But it’s important to note that this is not a “sermon,” the tale will thoroughly entertain you.

The author has a gifted way of bringing you inside the world of a whale, evoking understanding and empathy, and you will be intrigued by the research information provided on orcas. They have a mysterious realm that is amazing to explore throughout this story. It makes a great summer read, but would also be perfect for a classroom setting, on a field trip, or during a book club discussion emphasizing environmental and nature themes. If you are drawn to the ocean, sea life, or orcas, you will love this book. Please pass the title on to someone you know with an interest in endangered species, the environment, or wish to read a story that will hold their interest and make them truly care and feel emotion for nature’s incredible creations.

After you finish this novel, you will find yourself with a deeper understanding of orca families off the Pacific coast, where their existence is threatened by human action on a daily basis, and their survival depends on helpful and knowledgeable supporters. Two things stand out about this book: 1) all profits made will go directly toward orca conservation; and 2), how emotionally involved you will become with the characters, especially the whale who wants to return to his orca family. The author has a way of creating settings that make you feel as if you’re dwelling in them. Parts of the book are sad, so consider yourself warned, but there is a ribbon of hope that runs through the narrative at all times. “Beyond the Human Realm” is a definite keeper; a novel that perfectly presents nature, wrapped in a package of pure enjoyment—an irresistible combination.

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