Lauren Wolk’s Beyond the Bright Sea is a beautiful read

Lauren Wolk Beyond the Bright SeaBEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA, by Lauren Wolk, Dutton Books for Young Readers, May 2, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 10 and up)

Lauren Wolk’s Wolf Hollow — about young girl who takes action after a cruel new student starts bullying a strange (but kind) World War I veteran — was the winner of a 2017 Newberry Honor. There’s no doubt the book deserved the honor, just as her latest, Beyond the Bright Sea, deserves the starred reviews already coming in.

Beyond the Bright Sea tells the story of 12-year-old Crow. Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Crow is an orphan, raised by Osh, the man who rescued her from a small boat when she was just hours old, and Miss Maggie, a neighbor from across the sandbar.

Thought to have been set adrift from the leper colony on another island, Crow finds herself isolated. While Osh and Miss Maggie hold no fear of becoming sick from contact, the others who live in the Elizabeths are more wary.

Crow is curious about everything around her, and yet, she’s not even allowed to attend school with the other children. But Crow has Miss Maggie and Osh, and for the most part, she’s content. But one night, a mysterious fire appears across the water, and Crow starts to truly wonder about her own history. Sometimes, curiosity has a way of getting away from you, and soon Crow’s questions set in motion a chain of events that can’t be stopped.

Beyond the Bright Sea is a quiet book. While there is action, it’s through excellent prose that tension is created. Author Lauren Wolk has a way of giving readers just enough. She often goes right to the precipice with readers, but never pushes too hard.

At the heart of Beyond the Bright Sea is Crow, an intelligent young woman with strong intuition and sense of what’s right and wrong. Crow’s relationships with Osh and Miss Maggie are what I hope to achieve with my own daughter — open and with the ability to freely ask questions and challenge each other.

Beyond the Bright Sea is a beautiful read. And though its target audience is upper middle grade, it should appeal to YA readers and beyond.

© 2017, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.


About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.


  1. I love the cover! But I wasn’t really a fan of Wolf Hollow. It was too dark for me. This book appeals to me more than Wolf Hollow. I like the sound of Crow’s relationship with her guardians. How does the atmosphere/mood compare to Wolf Hollow?

    • It’s hard to compare the two books as they are so different. That said, I didn’t find Beyond the Bright Sea overly dark. If anything, I would say it has a sort of Gothic moodiness to it in places, but there are also bright moments. Crow lives on a somewhat remote island, and I think that setting has a lot to do with the overall feel. Without going into too much detail, she also crosses paths with a shady character and that could be seen as an additional darkness. I did, however, finish the book with a feeling of hopefulness.

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