cover image Beyond the Western Sea Bk Two

Beyond the Western Sea Bk Two

Avi. Scholastic, $18.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-531-09520-1

It is no small feat replicating the narrative style, character types and intricate plotting of a 19th-century serial novel, but Avi continues to accomplish the task with panache in Book Two of his ongoing saga about a family of poor Irish immigrants and the runaway son of an English lord. Just as good as its predecessor, The Escape from Home (Children's Forecasts, Apr. 1), this story begins where that book left off. Siblings Patrick and Maura O'Connell, aboard the Robert Peel on their way to meet their father in the U.S., are sharing cramped quarters with hundreds of other travelers. Lord Laurence Kirkle, robbed of his fortune, is a stowaway, while his two enemies, Mr. Clemspool and Mr. Grout, enjoy the comforts of first class accommodation. The stew of trouble that begins to simmer on ship comes to full boil when Patrick, Maura and Laurence finally set foot on land and discover just what kind of opportunity awaits them in America. Poverty, wretched working conditions, anti-Irish sentiments and news of Mr. O'Connell's death are only a few of the obstacles crossing the youngsters' paths. The future holds some promise for the characters by the time this book ends, but plenty of loose ends remain to whet appetites for another installment. Adventure lovers should not be intimidated by the thickness of this volume. Its short chapters full of clever narrative hooks and fast-paced adventure will keep most readers on the edge of their seats. Ages 11-14. (Oct.)