by Sharon Creech, published 2000
“I wondered if the same was true of children, that sometimes you can’t control things and sometimes you have to let go. Maybe you even have to let go of your parents.”
This is a simple and beautiful children’s book that deals with a difficult situation: a child losing her parents in an accident, when she were very, very young. But there’s no melancholy here, or false sympathy. Just the honest exploration of one brave 13-year-old girl trying to put the pieces together.
The story is unusually set- on a family sailing voyage across the Atlantic. However, the story is told through the first-person diaries of Sophie and her cousin Cody, so we experience the world through their eyes at every moment.
Sharon Creech is a talented writer, and this children’s book is quite similar in construct and feeling to the other book I read, Walk Two Moons, which also deals with loss of a parent through the eyes of the child. I like this book for its very simple structure, the very short chapters, and the continuous sense of movement of journey across the sea. I also feel admiration for the way, once again, Creech plants little hints of the outcomes in the story, without ever giving the outcome away. As with her other children’s book, I was surprised in the end, though it was much less dramatic in this case.
I think the book would appeal to both boys and girls, and I suppose it’s fine for 9 – 12, though I suspect the older children will get more out of it.