BEYOND 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.
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