OVERBOARD by Elizabeth Fama


Age Range: 12 - 15
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Frustrated by constant mosquito attacks, stifling humidity, a lack of privacy and friends, and inattention from her overworked parents who serve as World Physicians for Children, 14-year-old Emily Slake considers leaving the town of Banda Aceh in the north of Sumatra to meet up with her vacationing uncle on a nearby island. When her carelessness possibly contributes to a young girl’s death, Emily’s guilt drives her to board the overcrowded ferry for Weh. The sinking of the ferry interrupts her encounter with European vacationers (who embody Western ignorance of and insensitivity to other cultures). A nightmarish battle to fight fatigue, hunger, loneliness, and fear ensues. Although some scenes seem implausible, particularly Emily’s ability to carry on complete conversations and sing in her weakened state, first-time author Fama skillfully conveys the impact of survival in human nature. From a hopeless woman who gives her up her wrestle with life, desperate passengers who will injure or kill other humans for a space on a raft, and fear at the sight of sharks to Emily’s compassionate rescue of a young boy, Isman, her dedication to ensure his survival, and Isman’s devotion to his religion, readers will contemplate the fate of the characters and how they would fare under the same conditions. Inspired by an actual ferry accident caused by lax safety standards, this is a powerful exploration on the will to live. (author’s note, map) (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8126-2652-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Cricket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2002


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