Ahoy there me mateys!
the wanderer (Sharon Creech)
I previously read two novels by this author: walk two moons (Newbery Medal Winner) and chasing redbird.(ALA Best Book for Young Adults). When I found a copy of her Newbery Honor Book about an adventure across the ocean on a sailboat at a Friends of the Library sale, I had to snag the copy. Arrrr!
Side note: me copy has a lovely inscription in it:
Good luck in your new school (W.M.S.). You are a wonderful student & I will really miss you.
Love, Mrs. Becker
I wonder if Veronica ever read the book an’ if so did she enjoy it? Does she look back on Mrs. Becker with fondness? And how did it end up in the library sale for me to find? If only I could find out. But imagining can be fun too . . .
I highly enjoyed this quick read. The story takes place in the form of logs kept by two children, Sophie and her cousin, Cody, when they sail across the Atlantic on The Wanderer. The contrast between the perspectives of the cousins was lovely. Sophie is said to have three-sides – “dreamland or earthland or mule-land.” Cody is “loud, impulsive, and charming.” Cody’s misuse of sailing terms made me laugh. The two voices were extremely distinct an’ watching the changes the trip makes on both them and the family members was the heart of this book.
The setting, of course, was excellent but not without peril. Sailing on a sunny day can still have challenges, but being on a 45 foot sailing vessel in the middle of an Atlantic storm is no easy place to be. I thought that the descriptions of life aboard the ship and of the storm itself were extremely well done. As always I love me sea yarns.
However Sophie’s story was the best part. I won’t give it away because the reader should discover things through the tale itself. But her relationship with Bompie, her grandfather, was wonderful. In fact, how Sophie’s story unfolds was charming, at times bittersweet, and fabulous.
Heartwarming an’ wonderful, overall I recommend this book.
The author’s website has this to say about the novel:
Thirteen-year-old Sophie hears the sea calling, promising adventure and a chance for discovery as she sets sail for England with her three uncles and two cousins. Sophie’s cousin Cody isn’t sure he has the strength to prove himself to the crew and to his father. Through Sophie’s and Cody’s travel logs, we hear stories of the past and the daily challenges of surviving at sea as The Wanderer sails toward its destination—and its passengers search for their places in the world.
Her website also offers the story behind the story i.e. her inspiration:
During the year prior to our move back to the States from Europe, we crossed the Atlantic twelve times: my mother was ill; my husband was looking for a job; my mother died. Back and forth we went, and during one of these crossings, I felt like such a wanderer, endlessly roaming, yearning for home. The title for a book—The Wanderer—came to mind.
Simultaneously, I had the frame of a story in mind which would match that title. When my daughter Karin graduated from college, she and six friends (all male) sailed across the ocean from Connecticut to Ireland. Along the way, Karin kept a journal, recording the journey in writing and in drawings. I was reluctant to see her go—worried about her safety—but she reassured me as to all the safety provisions aboard. Midway through their trip, they were able to relay a message via a ham radio operator that all was well. I relaxed a bit. Then, two weeks later, when they did finally arrive in Ireland, Karin phoned. “Mom!” she said. “We almost died!” Shortly after they’d relayed the “all-safe” message, they encountered a gale, much like the one in the book: it broke their booms, ripped their sails, and knocked out all their communications’ equipment. So: out of all that came The Wanderer.
I started with the idea of a gutsy girl on board a sailboat with all men. They would follow the same route my daughter had taken, and they would encounter a storm. But the girl in the book, Sophie, is not my daughter. Sophie had no sooner started talking when I realized she had her own secrets, her own worries. Using a second narrator, a boy (Cody), evolved because it seemed he would make a good contrast to Sophie, and it would be interesting to see two different reactions to life on board the boat. I think I also had in mind the question so many boy readers used to ask me: When are you going to use a boy as a main character?
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