Welcome to my stop on the Overboard Blog Tour, hosted by Dianne of Oops! I Read a Book Again. I've got a review and giveaway for you, but be sure to check out the rest of the tour for more awesome content, including reviews from other bloggers and excerpts from the book!
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Publication Date: June 9, 2015 (first published January 1, 2002)
Source: PB provided by author for review
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
She swam up for what seemed like an eternity, with her chest so achingly empty it felt as if it had collapsed, seeing only white bubbles in front of her face until she broke the surface.
One moment of rashness, and fourteen-year-old Emily Slake finds herself amid hundreds of panicked and drowning people in the dark ocean waters off Sumatra. Miles from shore without a life vest, she resolves to survive. But in facing the dangers of the ocean, the desperation of her fellow survivors, and her own growing exhaustion, Emily must summon wits and endurance she's not sure she has.
Striking out on her own, Emily encounters Isman, a frightened young Muslim boy, floating in a life vest. Together they swim for their lives, relying on Emily's physical strength and Isman's quiet faith.
Based on a true story, Overboard is both a riveting tale of survival and a sensitive portrayal of cross-cultural understanding in a time of crisis.
I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Fama's after reading her dark and haunting Monstrous Beauty, and I was even further overcome by her beautiful words in Plus One. Plus, she's just an all-around awesome individual. So I was beyond excited to be given the opportunity to read her first book now that it's gone to print again.
I'm not always the biggest fan of survival accounts, but Emily's story had my heart in my throat the entire time. Initially, I found her character a tad immature and more than a little whiney, but then I remembered how I behaved at fourteen, and yeah, I would have loathed having my parents drag me to some developing country where I had no friends and little chance at a more conventional life. Plus, Emily really grows up over the course of the narrative and proves to be much more intelligent and quick-thinking than I ever was at that age.
Emily encounters a lot of situations that require her to pull from her life experience thus far, and it's her ability to think on her feet that ensures she survives to meet the next problem head-on. First and foremost, she has to make it off the sinking ferry, which is no small feat, but then she's thrown into a series of surreal episodes that would change any adult, let alone a kid of fourteen. I think her experience in the sea left her reevaluating everything, and she'll be quite a different person coming out the other side of such a tragedy.
This is not just a book about survival but also one of friendship. When we meet Emily, she feels rather desolate and longs for home. I think Beth so beautifully portrays what Emily's life is like as an American girl in a developing foreign country. After two years, she's learned the language and the customs, but she still feels like an outsider, as if she'll never fit into this life. And yet she does, without even realizing it. It's never more evident than when she meets British tourists on holiday in Sumatra, with their lack of knowledge of the local culture and the fact that they don't seem to care to know. It so obviously rubs Emily the wrong way, but she doesn't mention it.
Despite all of that, friendship presents itself in the most unlikely of scenarios, with Emily tying her life to that of a nine-year-old boy who needs her as much as she needs him to make it out of this situation alive. The fact that there is no language barrier makes it that much easier for Emily to convince Isman to let her help him. I wholeheartedly believe that if Emily was truly as unhappy in Indonesia as she believes she is in the beginning, she never would have made the effort to learn the language and she would have been much less successful out in the open sea -- much less dry land -- especially when it came to communicating with the other survivors.
I had planned to read this with my seven-year-old daughter because it sounded like such an inspirational story, and one with wonderfully diverse characters at that, but after much discussion with the author and after reading through it myself first, I decided that I'd wait a few years before letting Katie experience this fantastic book. Beth believes that this book reads younger, like a middle grade, and I'm inclined to agree, but there are still some situations that would likely give younger children nightmares, or at the very least, have them asking questions that they're maybe not quite ready for the answers to yet. But I have no doubt that when she's ready, my daughter will absolutely love this story of a heroic girl in a strange land as much as I did.
GIF it to me straight:
About the author:
Plus One was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in April, 2014. A 2015 RITA award finalist, Plus One was also a highlighted book in VOYA magazine, and was listed among the "Top 12 Young Adult Books of 2014" in the Huffington Post.
Monstrous Beauty, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in September, 2012. It won won the 2013 Odyssey Honor Award, and was included on the 2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults list and the 2013 YALSA Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults list.
My first novel, Overboard (Cricket Books, 2002), was named a 2003 Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association (one of only eleven books selected unanimously by the committee that year). It received the 2002-2003 honor award from the Society of Midland Authors, and it was nominated for five state readers' choice awards (New Hampshire, Texas, Illinois, Utah, and Florida).
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