Elizabeth Fama, Author . Cricket $15.95 (176p) ISBN 0-8126-2652-4

In this first novel based on a 1996 ferry accident off the coast of Sumatra, Emily, a 14-year-old American living in Indonesia with her doctor parents, boards an overcrowded, tilting ferry (without her parents' knowledge) after her uncle invites her to visit him on a nearby island. As the ship lists to "an unnatural angle," the captain distributes life vests. Emily hands hers to a younger boy who is trying to hang on to the railing. This heroic act seems uncharacteristic of the protagonist who, up to this point, has been unhelpful and rude to her parents and their charges. The girl then becomes trapped in the life-vest locker, which immediately fills with water. "The next thing she remembered was being near the surface, choking, searching for air, and then vomiting. How could she be sick in the water without holding on to anything? It was a joke; she was heaving and drowning at the same time." Such muddled, cumbersome prose weighs down the chronicle of Emily's nightlong struggle to survive in the sea, heavily reliant upon coincidences. During the course of the evening, she hooks up with the boy to whom she gave her life vest, a Muslim child who explains some of the tenets of his faith as they bob along in the water. Ages 12-15. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/13/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Children's
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