Monday, August 9, 2010


Sea by Heidi Kling
After her mother died in a plane crash in the Indian Ocean, Sienna has had a hard time dealing with anything related to her mother : surfing, (and the boy who surfed with her) airplanes, and of course, her father’s new girlfriend. In fact, she has constant nightmares.

Her parents have long been involved with international relief after disasters, and for her 15th birthday, her father gives her (read that forces her to go with him ) to Indonesia for two weeks. There she meets Deni, a boy who has lost his entire family, and with whom she instantly falls in love. Deni is convinced that his father is still alive, searching for him, especially after he has heard of someone asking for a Deni.

The horrors of the 2004 tsunami are downplayed for a young audience, as are the cultural differences- most of the children, including Deni, are Muslim. Deni acts more like a modern US teen, and he and Sienna fly back to his hometown (on her credit card) to find his father- alone.

The story is implausible, but compelling. More problematic is the lack of ability to inform a young audience about the Indonesian or Muslim culture, making one wonder if the author understood them.

The ending is satisfying and surprising, and Sienna is found by her father, who is only happy to see her, and they fly home, no questions asked, and no consequences for her actions. Aside from this typical TV style California family, the story is appealing on many levels and teens will enjoy it. It is too bad that it missed so many chances to be a great story.

Appropriate for middle school through high school.

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