cover image Shark Beneath the Reef

Shark Beneath the Reef

Jean Craighead George. HarperCollins Publishers, $13.95 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021992-5

The troubles of a small family fishing business provide the impetus for George's latest, evocative book. Her descriptions of wildlife and landscape shine more brightly than the plot; nonetheless, the story is among her most suspenseful. Tomas, 14, the innocent, imaginative hero, faces a difficult choice: should he leave school to fish for the rest of his life beside the men of his family, or go on to high school? While he vacillates, he targets a giant shark that has been lingering in the shallows where he swims--a killer he mistakes for a harmless whale shark. This pair of dangers--the shark and the volatile future--will keep readers in genuine doubt as to Tomas's fate. Will corruption and competition bring an end to his way of life? Despite some problems with pacing and a rather forced ending, George's book offers a sensitive portrayal of social change and its effect on a young person's dreams. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)