I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book.
A couple years ago, I read Lauren Wolk's book Wolf Hollow, and I hated it. The thing I love most about literature for kids is that the ending feels satisfying - not always happy, but satisfying. This was not the case for Wolf Hollow; this book felt helpless, dark, and tragic.
With much reluctance and skepticism, I dove into Beyond the Bright Sea.
Almost instantly, I fell in love with the setting. That Massachusetts coast, just a breath or so beyond the turn of the century, ebbs and flows with mystery. Wolk brings tangibility to coastal living in a way that makes me want to trade in my dishwasher and iPhone for the sea breezes and isolation of island living.
Wolk also weaves several plot twists and turns into the narrative. This is really her strength. Just when you think the conflict is solved or loose ends get tied up, a new problem emerges, more intense than the last. The continual push and pull keeps readers involved; students will love the mysteries that the main character, Crow, uncovers about her own origins. Adventure seekers will thrill at the promise of hidden treasure, while those who prefer emotional tension will connect with Crow's feelings about her surrogate father Osh and her neighborly mother-figure Miss Maggie. If you're a teacher and are interested in materials to teach this book in your classroom, you can click here.
So, I've given Lauren Wolk a second chance, and she proved worthy. I highly recommend this engaging read. In fact, I'm getting ready to read this book aloud to my own children. I can't wait to introduce them to Crow...and I hope you'll get the chance to soon do the same.