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

Opinion

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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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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.

v
vmcmorris
Nov 29, 2017

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

MissLauraStorytime Oct 17, 2017

My choice for the 2018 Newbery Award, Wolk's novel is masterfully written with tenderly crafted characters and vivid settings. The plot develops gradually, just as the main character, Crow's, desire to know more about where and who she came from comes upon her over time.
Well-paced with unexpected twists, this book is for all ages, 3rd grade and up.

bookcat51 Sep 25, 2017

Another beautifully written book by Lauren Wolk to be enjoyed by children and adults. Gorgeous language leads the reader through this historical fiction novel about a young orphan exploring where she came from and the true meaning of family.

ArapahoeKati Jul 10, 2017

Beautifully written novel about growing up on an island in the 1920s. I liked the characters and felt that they were real and made believable choices. A great novel about an unconventional family--and treasure! That's right. Treasure.

m
melmccurdy
Jun 26, 2017

An orphan, buried treasure, and an unconventional family on a remote Massachusetts island.
I liked it...but thought it was flawed.

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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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