A boy in rural Holland works to keep the horse he rescued from the sea.
On Flip's 12th birthday—July 6, 1966—police come to his Amsterdam apartment to inform him that his father, a petty criminal, is dead. Flip's mother vanished years ago; his only other relative, taciturn Uncle Andries, takes him home to his farm on the small island of Mossum. On Mossum, horses do the farm work, and only the doctor and the hotel owner, Mr. Mesman, own cars. Flip adapts to farm life, in particular forming bonds with his young cousin, Renske, the family horse, Laila, and a silent island visitor he dubs the Ghost Girl. When a shipwreck sends the men of Mossum out in the village lifeboat, Flip and the Ghost Girl rescue a horse entangled in the wreckage. With its owner presumed drowned, Flip gets temporary custody of the horse and names it Storm. Mr. Mesman, however, has designs on Flip's uncle's land and sees Storm as a way to gain control. Garlick's characters—race not assigned but presumed entirely white, as this is Holland in 1966—vary in complexity. Flip, his aunt, uncle, and cousin are all well and truthfully drawn. Mr. Mesman and his boys veer toward stereotype. The details of life on a remote island are interesting, but the setting will feel alien to many modern readers.
Overall, a solid horse book with the bonus of a male protagonist. (Historical fiction. 9-13)