Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beyond the Bright Sea - a review 4.20.17

Beyond the Bright Sea
Beyond the Bright Sea
by Lauren Wolk
published by Dutton Children's Books
May 2nd, 2017

Goodreads summary:
From the author of the critically acclaimed Wolf Hollow comes a moving story of identity and belonging.

Twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the starkly beautiful Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Abandoned and set adrift on a small boat when she was just hours old, Crow's only companions are Osh, the man who rescued and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbor across the sandbar.

Crow has always been curious about the world around her, but it isn't until the night a mysterious fire appears across the water that the unspoken question of her own history forms in her heart. Soon, an unstoppable chain of events is triggered, leading Crow down a path of discovery and danger.

Vivid and heart wrenching, Lauren Wolk's Beyond the Bright Seais a gorgeously crafted and tensely paced tale that explores questions of identity, belonging, and the true meaning of family.

My quick thoughts:
How do you follow up Wolf Hollow?  That book packed such an emotional punch.  I was so wrapped up in the many sides of that book, and it brought up such strong feelings for {or against} the characters.

Beyond the Bright Sea started slower for me, but one thing was evident right away, the writing was beautiful.  Lauren has this way of wrapping words so they swirl like a fine glass of wine, around in your mind.  Although it started slowly, the development of characters was just right, so by the time the action starts rising, you know these characters - or in one case - have enough questions of others that it all makes sense.  

I felt that Bright Sea had a strong theme, one that readers will be able to have a variety of connections to - what makes a family?  How do I fit in?  What is my place?  What is treasure?  It will be an interesting topic to explore in conversations.

A connection between the two books lays in the main characters - both Crow and Annabelle see past the outside of a person.  Both characters are wise beyond their years and I admired how both see qualities in people that others miss.

I think this book will find an audience in 5th-7th grade classrooms.  Another historical fiction novel, this book takes place in the 1920s and is close to an island that had been used to house people with leprosy until their deaths.  Many young readers will need some background about this illness and how it was treated in the United States to fully understand some of the references.  There are enough clues for savvy young readers will be able to make inferences to what leprosy could be and why people inflicted with it would be condemned to an island.

Lauren has written another beautiful novel and I look forward to sharing it with readers on May 2nd!

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