Beyond the Bright Sea
By Lauren Wolk
Dutton Children's Books, 2017. Fiction
Crow has lived her whole life on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts with Osh, the man who rescued her when she washed ashore as a newborn baby, and Miss Maggie, their neighbor across the sandbar. Though she loves her little makeshift family, she's always been curious about where she came from and why her birth parents sent her away. As Crow gets older, she hears gossip around the island about Penikese Island, a former leper colony, and rumors that Crow's parents were lepers. Crow begins an adventure to investigate where she comes from and learn about what family means.
This is a truly beautifully written novel. Lauren Wolk, whose novel WOLF HOLLOW received a Newbery Honor in 2016, has a genuine ability to evoke heart and emotion in her characters. There are definitely positive similarities to make to WOLF HOLLOW, but even standing on this own this book deserves attention. Crow is a strong, determined, intuitive heroine who pursues adventure and seeks the answers to her questions. The setting is vividly described and the historical background into the 1920s is impressive. Readers will love watching Crow grow up and learn about what makes a family and what makes a person who they are. This is a great middle grade read with equal parts emotion and action and stunning text as well.