From Publishers Weekly
In this first novel based on a 1996 ferry accident off the coast of Sumatra, Emily, a 14-year-old American living in Indonesia with her doctor parents, boards an overcrowded, tilting ferry (without her parents' knowledge) after her uncle invites her to visit him on a nearby island. As the ship lists to "an unnatural angle," the captain distributes life vests. Emily hands hers to a younger boy who is trying to hang on to the railing. This heroic act seems uncharacteristic of the protagonist who, up to this point, has been unhelpful and rude to her parents and their charges. The girl then becomes trapped in the life-vest locker, which immediately fills with water. "The next thing she remembered was being near the surface, choking, searching for air, and then vomiting. How could she be sick in the water without holding on to anything? It was a joke; she was heaving and drowning at the same time." Such muddled, cumbersome prose weighs down the chronicle of Emily's nightlong struggle to survive in the sea, heavily reliant upon coincidences. During the course of the evening, she hooks up with the boy to whom she gave her life vest, a Muslim child who explains some of the tenets of his faith as they bob along in the water. Ages 12-15.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 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
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.