Monday, October 10, 2011

The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong

This book is about survival at sea, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Following his mother's death, Ben's father decides to sell the house and spend the next year sailing around the ocean on a boat with his three sons. The boys hate the idea, and Ben, being the oldest, is the most vocal about it. There is conflict all of the time, and everyone is very depressed and angry. Finally, the family's fortunes take a turn for the worse when the father disappears overboard during the night. A huge storm rises up and tosses the small boat around until it smashes into a tiny, coral and sand island. How can three brothers survive, alone, on an island without fresh water and very little plant and animal life? Ben decides something risky must be done when the middle brother becomes seriously injured in a fall.

The last third of the plot saved this book for me. The first half of the plot stressed the conflict and turmoil within the family as they tried to deal with the death of the mother. It was obvious that the father was hurting inside, but Ben couldn't help hating him. The author constantly described this hate, and I felt the plot suffered. There's not much action on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean, so that already offered a challenge in holding my interest. The focus on the problem between Ben and his father became repetitive after a while. The plot became interesting after the father fell off the boat, and I enjoyed the climax and resolution.

Lexile level from 660

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