cover image Julia and the Shark

Julia and the Shark

Kiran Millwood Hargrave, illus. by Tom de Freston. Union Square Kids, $18.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4549-4868-1

A tempest-tossed race to locate an ancient Greenland shark upends a family in a heart-wrenching novel reminiscent of The Line Tender. Ten-year-old Julia, whose family cues as white, is spending her summer on the Shetland island of Unst while her programmer father automates an old lighthouse and her marine biologist mother attempts to study a recently sighted Greenland shark. After the family travels from Cornwall and arrives at the damp lighthouse, Julia quickly befriends Kin, a local boy who experiences bullying around his Indian heritage. When the shark evades discovery and her mother’s grant applications are met with rejection, Julia begins to see her mother’s boundless passion and impulsivity in a new light, as well as experience increased tension and desperation within the usually tight-knit family. Plagued by dreams of a phantom shark and swept up in her parents’ conflicts, Julia takes drastic and potentially dangerous action. Wry first-person prose by Millwood Hargrave (The Way Past Winter) drives Julia’s burgeoning, age-appropriate understanding of her parents as fallible but wholly lovable people in a story that explores bipolar disorder, dementia, and varying kinds of knowledge. Sparse illustrations from de Freston render Julia’s experiences in shades of black, gray, and a bright, emotive yellow. Ages 10–up. (Mar.)