Note: Knowing that Amazon might reject a review in which I make a heartfelt recommendation, I’m going to start writing more in the way of introductions that won’t be part of the review.
I’m going to tell you upfront that I highly recommend The Islanders for any Middle Graders in your life (or maybe even you 😉 ) who love nature and/or the beach. The authors share their love and knowledge of the subject in such a way that it’s almost contagious!
Read my review below. Thanks!
Mary Alice Monroe
with Angela May
Blurb: From New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe comes a beautiful story of friendship, loss, and the healing power of nature in her first book for middle grade readers.
Eleven-year-old Jake’s life has just turned upside-down. His father was wounded in Afghanistan, and his mother is going to leave to care for him. That means Jake’s spending the summer on tiny Dewees Island with his grandmother. The island is a nature sanctuary—no cars or paved roads, no stores or restaurants. To make matters worse, Jake’s grandmother doesn’t believe in cable or the internet. Which means Jake has no cell phone, no video games…and no friends. This is going to be the worst summer ever!
He’s barely on the island before he befriends two other kids—Macon, another “summer kid,” and Lovie, know-it-all who lives there and shows both Jake and Macon the ropes of life on the island. All three are struggling with their own family issues and they quickly bond, going on adventures all over Dewees Island. Until one misadventure on an abandoned boat leads to community service. Their punishment? Mandatory duty on the Island Turtle Team. The kids must do a daily dawn patrol of the beach on the hunt for loggerhead sea turtle tracks. When a turtle nest is threatened by coyotes, the three friends must find a way to protect it. Can they save the turtle nest from predators? Can Jake’s growing love for the island and its inhabitants (be they two-legged, four-legged, feathered, or finned) help to heal his father?
Mary Alice Monroe’s name is almost synonymous with coastal women’s fiction and especially the travails of the loggerhead turtles. Now she’s brought us her first children’s book written with Angela May called The Islanders.
Jake is left with his depressed grandmother, Honey, on the South Carolina of Dewees when his mother goes to his father who has been critically wounded in Afghanistan. His grandmother has not gotten over the loss of her husband two years earlier and the not knowing the state of her son, Eric, is worsening her condition. So Jake arrives to a dusty, cluttered house where all of the food items are either sporting a fine green tinge or out-of-date. This is not the summer he envisioned.
His viewpoint soon shifts as he makes friends with Macon, who is also new to the island, and Lovie, who has lived nearby all of her life and wants to show the newbies around. As the summer passes, the three become fast friends, overcoming misunderstandings to forge a powerful bond.
The Islanders is filled with lots of information about the wildlife on Dewees as well as the loggerhead turtles and I can’t imagine any child who loves nature would not be inspired by reading this book. The authors have made the story and facts very accessible and the events that happen to the kids are plausible and might bring about recognition from their own lives. It’s a book of friendship, of kids exploring the natural world as well as the unknown possibilities of “what ifs.
I admit that I was as thrilled as the characters when a loggerhead nest boiled (that’s evidently the term for when all of the sea turtles dig up through the sand at the same time) and all of the little sea turtles ran for the ocean. What a completely wonderful and memorable scene! One that I think of with a smile and hope someday I might see in person.
A highly enjoyable read!
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
5 out of 5 butterflies