Isn't this a beautiful cover?
Blessing's Bead (Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009) by Debby Dahl Edwardson is an interesting mix of historical and contemporary. I'll be honest I felt the historical section was a bit slow at first--maybe because there were so many characters--but once I got going it was good. The contemporary section pulled me in right away. I loved how the cultural information was done. It was great how the two stories meet up.
Here's a brief look at each section:
It's 1917 and Nutaaq watches her sister Aaluk and the young Siberian wearing the string of cobalt beads. Nutaaq does well in a race and gets one bead. Her sister goes off to marry the Siberian, then illness strikes the village and very few are left.
70 years later, Blessing and her little brother are sent away from their mother to live with their grandmother. Blessing feels like an outsider with the Inupiaq, but then begins to learn about her family's history. She finds a blue bead, which she treasures without quite knowing why.
Debby writes with authenticity about her adopted culture in Barrow, Alaska. Read more here and the kudos for Blessing's Bead. Debby's site has many extras, so you may want to spend some time there. I did and now I'm putting her other novel and her picture book on my TBR pile!