Check the Insider each Tuesday for your weekly dose of reading recommendation excitement!
This week’s review:
Beyond the Bright Sea | Lauren Wolk | 2017, 283 pages |Children’s fiction (over 10 years old)
Crow is a 12-year-old girl who lives on a speck of land off Cuttyhunk Island, between Buzzard’s Bay and Vineyard Sound, Mass. How she got there is a familiar story to her: she was washed up by the ocean in an otherwise empty skiff and taken in by Osh, an artist who lived alone on that tiny islet. Osh kept her and raised her, with the help of their neighbor on Cuttyhunk, Miss Maggie. The locals believe that Crow must have come from the leper hospital that was still in operation on nearby Penikese Island when Crow was born, and must be infected with the dreaded disease. Crow hasn’t been touched by anyone other than her two guardians during her entire life.
She starts asking questions, partly in response to seeing a fire on Penikese, and partly through natural curiosity. Crow, Miss Maggie and Osh travel there to take a look and see. Each bit of information that they obtain answers some questions but generates more, until the reader is entirely caught up in the mystery of what happened on the island, how Crow might be involved and how it will play out in their present life.
The story starts out slowly, but as the mystery deepens and the pace quickens, the reader is drawn in. New questions revealed, dramatic rescues, and hints of what is to come whet the appetite and keep the reader turning pages. In my case, I couldn’t put the book down, and read through my bedtime and into the night.
In the end, Crow learns valuable lessons, not only about her own origins, but about the nature of family, and the commitments that people make to each other. This is a wise and sparkling coming-of-age story that ends on a note of wisdom and hope.
Tricia Hutchins, Library Page