A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor (review)
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Reviewed by
Taylor, Jessica A Map for Wrecked Girls. Dial, 2017 [368p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-7352-2811-5 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-7352-2813-9 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12

Fifteen-year-old Emma adores her older sister, Henri, but when their father leaves, Henri’s behavior goes off the rails, and she finds comfort with any boy who will give her attention. A jealous Emma tricks herself into falling for a boy who is clearly in love with Henri, thinking that being with him would be a way to keep Henri close. A hinted-at tragedy has wrecked the sisters’ relationship, though, and when the boat they and their boyfriends are on explodes and lands them on a desert island, tensions run high. For seventy-three days, the girls and the one surviving boy, Alex, face the task of survival, but also, for Emma, the task of disentangling herself from a dysfunctional emotional dependence on her sister. The combination of relationship drama with a survival story may be well-worn territory, but that’s because it works, forcing characters to either rebuild lost trust or face impossible choices. Henri is impressively selfish, but she garners sympathy when her motives are revealed; that reveal is withheld just long enough for Emma to have her own much-needed epiphany. The back-and-forth storytelling, alternating between present time on the island and the circumstances leading up to their estrangement, produces two lines of narrative tension: will they all survive despite Henri’s efforts at sabotage, and what wrecked the sisters’ relationship so badly that she would put their lives at risk in the first place? A resolution both wise and humane provides the map promised in the title.

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