From School Library Journal
Grade 7–10—Ben Byron, 15, is angry. Just two months after the death of his mother in a car accident, his dad, crushed by the loss of his wife, sells their house and small boat and uses the money to buy the Chrysalis, a 30-foot sailboat. He uproots Ben and two younger sons for a yearlong tour of the Bahamas. Life goes as smoothly as it can for a while, despite the tension, chores, and close quarters. But one morning everything changes—their father disappears. When the boat heads into a terrible storm, Ben must act. Throughout the novel, the protagonist's emotions ring true. Although the sailing details are a bit technical at times, Herlong spins an engrossing, suspenseful tale of survival.—Melyssa Malinowski, Kenwood High School, Baltimore, MD
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*Starred Review* Soon after their mother’s death, 15-year-old Ben and his two younger brothers are stunned when their father sells their home, buys a sailboat, and announces that they will live on board and cruise the Bahamas for the next year. Wrenched from everything he knows and forced to obey his father-captain’s orders, Ben starts out angry and finds no escape. As he says, “We were always together.” When their father sets a course for Bermuda and disappears overboard one night, the boys have little time to wonder if he jumped or fell before they’re struggling to stay afloat in a fierce Atlantic storm. Lost at sea in a damaged boat, they find their way to an island where they are stranded with little food, little water, and little hope of rescue. Herlong’s first book is a great survival story and a fine portrayal of family relationships in a time of crisis. Justifiably angry, yet logical, reflective, and at times compassionate, Ben makes a sympathetic protagonist, and his brothers are no less appealing. With enough detail to make the settings real and a minimum of metaphor, the first-person narrative is clean and direct. This page-turner of an adventure story is also a convincing, compelling, and ultimately moving novel. Grades 6-10. --Carolyn Phelan
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