Lauren Wolk has a gift for writing that draws you in with tension, adventure, and showing you just enough to make you want to turn the page. Her characters are so three dimensional you can see their hearts, exposed by their thoughts and actions. It is the kind of book that is hard to put down until you reach the end, and then you sigh, so good.
Ms. Wolk has two other books, Wolf Hollow, and Echo Mountain. Beyond The Bright Sea, was written as the middle book, but all the books are stand alone stories. Each book involves a twelve-year-old girl as the main character. Beyond the Bright Sea won the Scott O’dell award for historical fiction.
The time period of this book is 1925. The heroine, Crow, floats up to an island in a small, makeshift boat, only hours after her birth. She is taken in and raised by a man, Osh, who has a dark history of his own that is alluded to throughout the book.
Miss Maggie is their neighbor and oversees the education of Crow. She is the defender of Crow when the people of the Island ostracize her after they learn she came from the Island of Pekinese, where a leper colony had been living.
This is a story of a girl named Crow trying to learn where she came from, what is in a name, who is her true family, and how to combat the evil that slips into her world.
The book while not overtly Christian, has Biblical themes running throughout. Themes of love, forgiveness, obeying “sacred writings”, honoring the ones who stand in as your father and mother, and doing the right thing in all circumstances. Crow, Osh, and Miss Maggie have to fight against an evil man that harms others and would take a life for the riches of this world. There is a wonderful theme of living in this world but loving people instead of the the things of the world (see 1 John 2:15-17 and Romans 12:2).
I highly recommend this book for middle graders. I think both boys and girls will find it very riveting. Even though the main character of Mrs. Wolk’s books are girls, she always adds characters that will be of interest to boys, also. I think parents would enjoy reading the book as well for the beautiful pictures it paints of the sea, the characters of Osh and Miss Maggie, and themes of family and giving of yourself when necessary, for the good of others.