From School Library Journal
Grade 6–10—Ruslan falls for Sarah when her family's sailboat docks in his Indonesian town for mechanical assistance, but Sarah, a self-absorbed American, fails to notice him. Both teens are then caught in the disastrous 2004 tsunami. Sarah makes it to safety, but her mother is killed and her father is missing, leaving her to care for her younger brother. Ruslan also survives and immediately begins to search for his father, who had left their coastal home before the storm. The two meet again, this time forging a relationship. The action never slows, though some dangerous encounters seem unnecessary. Other predicaments are resolved too easily. For example, when Sarah is stranded on an island without a knife, she conveniently finds a boat and machete. Too many conflicts-death, romance, Sarah's anger toward her mother, Ruslan's relationship with relatives who are rebel fighters-muddle the plot. To his credit, the author treats cultural differences with a gentle and honest touch. He also creates a vivid picture of the many horrors and challenges faced in the immediate aftermath of a large-scale natural disaster. Despite drawbacks, this book will appeal to fans of survival adventures like Gary Paulsen's Hatchet
(Macmillan, 1986).—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI
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Drawing from his own experience as a rescue worker, Lewis creates a powerful fictional tale of survival and cooperation in the wake of the 2004 tsunami that killed nearly a quarter of a million people and devastated much of the Southeast Asian coastline. Set on the western coast of Sumatra where the waves first hit land, the story centers on Ruslan, a local teenager searching corpse-strewn ruins for his father, and Sarah, a young American tourist desperately seeking medical help for her little brother. Falling in with a small group of other survivors, the three young people wander through shattered villages, seeing bodies dumped into hastily dug mass graves and people fired upon as suspected rebels, but also witnessing much kindness (except at the end, when, rescued at last, they are set upon by avid journalists and other Ugly Americans). Although many of Lewis' descriptions are horrifyingly vivid, Ruslan's resilience and Sarah's emotional numbness will give readers some shielding. An afterword is appended. John PetersCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved