For two white sisters, their relationship might be more important than survival.
Moving between the present and the past, readers meet Emma, who loves her older sister at the expense of her own self-development. In Emma’s eyes, Henri—a too-precious nickname for Henrietta—is a dynamo who can get any guy she wants (including a young teacher at their school and Latino next-door-neighbor Jesse, whom Emma loves). Although Henri loves Emma, it doesn’t change her boy-chasing behavior, which is implied to have become worse since their father left. Meanwhile, Emma has buried all her desires in order to serve her sister’s, but such behavior is unsustainable, and Emma finally cracks, in a way that Henri cannot forgive. Their relationship shattered, the two sisters are made to go to Puerto Rico with their mother, where Emma flirts with a white boy named Alex, the kind of boy Henri would want. A boat trip with Alex ends in disaster when they’re shipwrecked on an uncharted island: the book’s starting point, before it flashes back to the events that brought them there. Survival and rescue from the island become but a metaphor for Emma and Henri’s healing—but with a new dynamic. The scenes from the past do not provide enough information to fully explain Emma’s or Henri’s psychology, making their choices in the present somewhat confounding—and amazingly, making the survival plot less interesting.
A family novel that doesn’t compel. (Fiction. 14-16)