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by Elizabeth Fama


School Library Journal:

Gr 5-8 –With blond hair, green eyes, and pale skin, Emily, 14, feels like an outsider on the island of Sumatra. Her parents have traveled to Indonesia as medical personnel with a deep desire to help, but she desperately wants to return to Boston. She rejoices when she hears from her exploring uncle who is on a nearby island and, without gaining her parents’ permission, she boards the ferry to visit him. A happy reunion is not to be, however, as the overloaded and aging boat sinks. Long hours elapse slowly as Emily attempts to escape the horror of drowning passengers and swim to land. She finds an Indonesian boy, Isman, floating in a life jacket, and they draw strength from one another. Their relationship provides the focus for this adventure story. Isman’s quiet yet strong Islamic faith bolsters Emily’s flagging courage as well as frustrates her when he struggles over the decision to eat something during a day of Ramadan. Each moment brings the two new problems–cold, hunger, sharks, a whirlpool, fear–and actively holds readers’ interest. An author’s note describes the inspiration for this unique book–a real ferry accident off the coast of Sumatra in 1996 when only 40 of the 400 passengers survived.–Crystal Faris, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY –Crystal Faris (Reviewed July 1, 2002) (School Library Journal, vol 48, issue 7, p119)


  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2003


5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Cultural Differences, Friendship, Teen