From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—Sienna is afraid—of airplanes, of the ocean, of life. She has had these fears for three years, ever since her mother's plane disappeared over the ocean while on a humanitarian aid trip in Thailand. On her 15th birthday, she gets the worst present she can imagine: a plane ticket to accompany her dad and two other doctors on a two-week trip to an Indonesian orphanage—one housing children and young adults who are survivors of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Sienna doesn't want to go, and the cultural differences and deprivations do not make her any happier once there. On her first night, during a welcoming program hosted by the orphans, she meets Deni, a 17-year-old from Aceh, the tsunami's epicenter. Their relationship develops quickly and leads to actions and decisions that are ill-considered and dangerous—both in a Muslim culture and during a state of civil unrest. Sienna loses her fears much faster than one would expect, and her return home to a friendship that is evolving into a romance, so soon after she was in love with another boy whose life was filled with tragedy, makes her seem emotionally shallow. Teens who like relationship novels will overlook these flaws, but the book is definitely an additional purchase.—Suanne Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
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“I’m sitting alone on the other side of the world talking to a sea turtle that might be my mom.” So begins Kling’s debut novel, the story of 15-year-old Sienna (Sea to her friends), who lost her mother three years earlier when her plane disappeared over the Indian Ocean. Her body was never found, and Sienna secretly believes she could still be alive. Joining her father’s psychiatric team helping child victims of the 2004 tsunami, she spends two weeks in an Indonesian refugee camp where she meets the gorgeous and enigmatic Deni, with whom she has an instant connection and a bittersweet romance. Kling blends facts about Indonesian culture and the wake of the tsunami with a lyrical story of loss and daring to love again. The evocative cover art (a couple silhouetted against watery blue tiles) and exotic locale will attract readers, although the cultural details sometimes lack elegant exposition. Sienna’s loss, newfound courage and eventual acceptance of the changes in her life ring true in the satisfying and wholly believable first-person narrative. Grades 7-10. --Debbie Carton