Beyond the bright sea by Lauren Wolk

cover image

Corgi Childrens, 2017. ISBN 9780552574303
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Historical. Belonging. Sometimes a book comes along that lingers in the mind and Beyond the bright sea is one of those wonderful lyrical and heart wrenching stories. Twelve-year-old Crow was found drifting in a small boat when she was just a few hours old. Rescued by Osh, a lonely man, she has been brought up by him and Miss Maggie, a neighbour across the sandbar. She is a curious person and when she sees a fire on the island across the water, she begins to piece together her own history. Her discoveries lead her and her companions into danger, as the mystery of her birth and the strange occurrences on the island of Penikese in Massachusetts begins to unfold.
Beautifully described, the life that Crow leads on the island in the 1920's comes alive. She is intelligent and intuitive and really wants to know where she came from and why many people avoid her. She is dearly loved by Osh and Miss Maggie but discovering why she was set adrift as a new born begins to obsess her. As she uncovers the truth surrounding her birth, she also begins to understand the true meaning of family and belonging.
At the same time, Wolk has woven in a mystery surrounding Penikese, the island that had been the home of lepers in the past. Crow is integral in solving who is the evil man haunting the island and what has happened to long lost pirate treasure.
The Note at the back of the book details the research that provided the background of the leper colony and the shipwrecks that occurred in the seas surrounding the islands.
Beautifully written, this is an outstanding story. With its focus on belonging, identity and prejudice it would make a wonderful read aloud or a class novel or literature circle novel.
Pat Pledger