A five year old girl is orphaned after an earthquake takes her family. Wandering, she escapes a cave lion attack and happens upon the cave people, who are searching for a new cave to live in after the earthquake collapsed their previous home. Iza, the medicine woman, wants to take the child in even though she's an Other, with light blonde hair. Brun, the leader of the tribe, reluctantly agrees but tells Iza she must teach the child the ways of the clan. Ayla, the child, is a free spirit and doesn't really understand the ways of the clan. She has problems conforming, which brings negative attention upon herself although Iza loves her like her own daughter. Broud, son of Brun, particularly hates Ayla because of all the attention she gets despite not being part of the clan.
There are two good reasons to like this book. The first is the environment. Bringing the pre-historic age to life I'm sure is no easy task. Though current-day descriptions are used to describe how things were back then, which took me a while to reconcile in my head, the environment was fascinating. I haven't read a book set in this time before.
The second is the character, which is where this book excels. You immediately pull for Ayla, hate Broud, and love Iza and Creb. It can't be helped. The only thing I tired of was how often the author reminded us about how much Broud hated Ayla. He actions spoke loudly, Auel's words didn't need to follow, it was a bit overkill.
I have the next book in the series and I'm looking forward to it.
First Line: "The naked child ran out of the hide-covered lean-to toward the rocky beach at the bend in the small river."