Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Ninja Reviews... The Great Wide Sea by Madaline Herlong

The death of their mother changed everything.  Ben is confronted by this truth when his mourning father suddenly decides that he and the family will take a year off from everything and sail in and around the Bahamas.  But Ben and his brothers Dylan and Gerry don't want to leave.  They hate seeing their mothers things boxed up, as if she never existed.  Where were the boxes going? Storage? Trash?  Ben slowly sees the life he knows unraveling and knows there is nothing he can do about it.

With the money from selling their house and car, Ben's dad purchases a sailboat called Chrysalis, her scratched, dull body only slightly over 30 feet. There is no privacy on the boat.  There is no questioning their father, the Captain.  All that remains is repetitive work, school, and silence.  Ben hates that his father never asked what HE wanted.

Suddenly, the boys wake up one morning they discover that their father is gone and they are lost at sea halfway between the Bahamas and Bermuda.  What happened to their father?  How will they find their way?  Without time to feel the loss of their father as well, the boys must fight with a raging storm that smashes their boat and leaves them deserted on an island.  Now they must stick together as brothers and use their courage and intelligence to find their way home.

I had been considering reading The Great Wide Sea for many months before picking it up.  Though I love survival books (Hatchet being on of my most favorite), I determined this book would not really be worth the read unless I didn't have anything else to do.  I can say now I was very, very wrong.  The Great Wide Sea is a wonderful, poignant novel that gets to the heart and soul of grieving teen Ben.  His attitude and need to feel independent feel genuine throughout the book, and his courage is something to admire.

I heartily recommend this current Lone Star book to any teen who loves reading realistic fiction about struggling teens or survival stories.  An absolutely great read!

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