Beyond the Bright Sea

Beyond the Bright Sea

Book - 2017
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Set adrift on the ocean in a small skiff as a newborn, twelve-year-old Crow embarks on a quest to find the missing pieces of her history.
Publisher: New York, NY : Dutton Children's Books, [2017]
ISBN: 9781101994856
1101994851
Characteristics: 283 pages ; 22 cm

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Chicago Public Library recommends this title as one of the best books published in 2017.

Twelve-year-old Crow was just a baby when she washed up on the shore of one of the Elizabeth islands, tucked carefully into a basket. Raised by Osh, a painter, and Miss Maggie, an eccentric, Crow is happy with her life – and yet she has questions. Where did she come from? Who were her parents? Wh... Read More »


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OPL_KIDS Apr 29, 2020

This captivating story will leave readers wanting to breathe salty sea air and strike out on a treasure-hunting adventure. Although the story is set on the wild Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts in the 1920s, the themes of self-discovery, identity, and family are completely relevant to modern readers. Crow, a 12-year old orphan, seeks to uncover the mysteries of her biological family while deepening her love for her adopted island family. She relentlessly pursues answers to her long-sought questions, but she finds the meaning of courage when she faces the answers. In an exciting tale of shipwrecks, danger, and secrets, Wolk proves that the closest connections are often those forged through isolation.

Reviewed by Ms. Tamara

j
JerryJennings
Jan 26, 2020

Wolf is a story teller. She brings, characters, setting, circumstances and humanity into focus. Beyond the Bright Sea is a tale that captivated me and I think would do the same for middle schoolers and beyond. I recommend it to young people and adults who enjoy intrigue, history, a strong 12 year old female protagonists, and strong relationships between characters

a
Azaria_Renee
Dec 24, 2019

So disappointed in the ending. This could have gone so many different ways. Crow found all the wrong things.

IndyPL_SarahL Dec 20, 2018

This reminded me a lot of Steinbeck's The Pearl! This was also the first I've heard of a leper colony in the United States, so it inspired a lot of Google searches and Google-Earthing. Crow is an incredible little girl. Her selflessness and bravery are excellent character traits from which young readers can learn a lot. I highly recommend this one for a novel study or a middle-grade book club!

haklh Sep 26, 2018

This book is an excellent example of the way windswept shores make a broody, atmospheric setting (Hannah Kent's Burial Rites also comes to mind). The story is set in the Elizabeth Islands, a group of wild, rocky, sparsely populated islands off the coast of Massachusetts (the location itself conjures up images of hardship and tough people already). While the location plays an important part in the story, the story's narrow focus on the lives of only three main characters gives it a timeless, almost fable-like quality at the same time. (It was set in the 1920s but there were very few time-clues).

This story is rich and dense in a good way. The central story - with themes of identity, belonging, and what makes a family - is enough to fill a middle-grade novel on its own; but just when you expect the story to be resolved, the author lobbs in additional acrs full of mystery, danger, and history. These twists and turns will hold your attention right to the end. Even the author's notes make a terrific read.

a
areejdridi
Jul 25, 2018

I liked how Crow found the treasure and decided to keep half for her older brother, Jason.

JCLAngelicaR Feb 23, 2018

A beautiful female character-driven story with an intensifying pace, heart-wrenching tone, authentic characters, and compelling writing style. Wolk deftly raises the gamut of complex societal issues including identity, unconditional love, kindness, inclusion, outcasts, among others. And have I mentioned that there's also a sea treasure adventure and a rough-edged villain in the story? Rich and complete in its own right, "Beyond the Bright Sea" will make a great choice for a book club or reading buddies just like "Wolf Hollow", earlier Wolk's masterpiece.

j
jeanhatfield
Feb 14, 2018

This beautifully written story of life on a small island on the Atlantic seaboard immerses the reader in the lives of an orphan and the man who rescued her. This story is part mystery, part adventure, and part family story. The finely drawn characters are people the reader can care about (or dislike) and the author is able to show the subtle growth and changes they undergo.

JCLChrisK Feb 01, 2018

For this review, I'm going to repeat what I wrote about Wolk's previous book, Wolf Hollow:

"This is a beautifully crafted book with as vivid a sense of place, time, and character as I've encountered. Readers come to fully know the story's setting and participants with an affecting clarity. [Crow] makes a wonderful narrator, and her carefully observed insights into herself and others provide a perfect perspective for understanding the tragedies at the heart of the story. She knows, by the end, that she has made a significant transition from childhood to adulthood. She knows far more about pain and suffering, and she knows far more about decency and kindness and community. The unfolding of that transition is transporting, meaningful, and moving. This is a story you feel."

A few of those details may not be quite right, but the gist of it is. I repeat myself, however, for the same reason I'm giving this only four stars instead of five: it follows in Wolf Hollow's footsteps a bit too precisely. The details are different, but the structure, flow, and style are so similar that in some ways I felt I was reading the same story. It's an excellent story; I just needed it to be a bit more distinct. That's a very nitpicky criticism, though, that won't matter to most readers. I really enjoyed reading it and most likely you will, too.

Highly recommended.

k
KEVelda
Nov 29, 2017

I read and reread passages because this book is so well-written. Crow is strong and smart.

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apollospacefan Jan 25, 2020

30 Fascinating Historical Fiction bookriot.com

JCLChrisK Feb 01, 2018

"I think I've been wrong about some things," I said slowly. . . .

"Like what?"

"Like people," I said.

He huffed. "Easiest mistake in the world," he said.

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