OVERBOARD

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 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8126-2652-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Cricket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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