cover image Storm Warriors

Storm Warriors

Elisa Carbone. Alfred A. Knopf, $16.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-375-80664-3

Carbone (Stealing Freedom) bases her inspiring and little-known tale on actual rescues made by seven courageous African-Americans during the late 1800s on Pea Island, on the Outer Banks of N.C. The island acted as the base for a division of the United States Life-Saving Service (precursor to the Coast Guard). Twelve-year-old narrator Nathan lives close to the station with his grandfather and widower father, both fishermen who often assist in the rescues. From the outset, Nathan outlines the cause of racial tension between the Pea Island crewmen and the nearby Oregon Inlet crewmen (""Grandpa says they have the same surnames because back before the war the granddaddies and great-granddaddies of the Oregon Inlet crew used to own the granddaddies and great-granddaddies of the Pea Island crew, and they shared their family names with their slaves"") and sets the stage for several incidents that discourage the boy's dream of someday joining Pea Island's Life-Saving crew, the only such crew manned by African-Americans. Yet the determined boy pores over books he finds in the station's library, learning about rescue procedures and first aid, proves himself a competent helper in sea rescues and eventually finds his own calling. Though a surfeit of detail occasionally encumbers the story's pace and weakens its impact, Carbone includes some suspenseful descriptions of the rescue crew's feats, and the affecting passages between Nathan and his loving grandfather are the novel's greatest strength. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)