Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk (review)
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Reviewed by
Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor
Wolk, Lauren Beyond the Bright Sea. Dutton, 2017[304p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-101-99485-6 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-101-99486-3 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4–6

Twelve years ago a skiff containing a tiny, crying baby washed ashore on one of the small Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts. Osh, the sole resident of the island, took the babe in and named her Crow, and the two have been family ever since. Now it’s 1925, and Crow begins to wonder why people avoid her during her and Osh’s occasional visits to the more populated islands. He eventually tells her that they believe her to be from Penikese Island, the site of a now shuttered hospital for lepers. As she pieces together the clues of her origin, she finds that her past is tangled up with a history of heartbreak and a local legend of treasure. An orphaned child searching for her past is not a new story, but Wolk refreshes it with gentle tenderness, understanding, and love between Crow and Osh. Crow’s contentedness with her life on the island and with Osh comes through in her direct, tempered narration, and it’s clear that her search for her biological family is not an attempt to replace the one she has made with Osh. Although he is mostly stoic and silent, Osh packs heaps of devotion and love into his small, simple statements, and Crow’s ability to read so much into a certain expression or movement proves their connectedness. Though this is largely character driven, the treasure hunting part of the plot offers a fair amount of action, especially when a particularly nasty criminal shows up. Fans of Wolk’s debut, Wolf Hollow (BCCB 5/16), will find similar themes of family, love, and identity here.

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