>The Great Wide Sea is one of the most thoughtfully written and enjoyable young adult novels I’ve read in a long time. The author, M. H. Herlong, captures the essence of a teenage boy in conflict with his father. Not to bring gender into the spotlight, but M.H. is a woman. I hope she has not used initials, rather than her first and middle names, to appeal to young boys. This reminds me of S.E. Hinton and J.K. Rowling, and it makes me sad that we still perpetuate the stereotype of men writing for boys and women writing for girls.
After his mother dies in a tragic car accident, Ben’s father unilaterally decides the family will spend the next year sailing. Ben, almost sixteen, wants no part of the plan. When his father mysteriously disappears while the family sails between islands, Ben and his brothers assume the worst – their father has committed suicide, leaving them to survive on their own. Shortly thereafter, they run into a horrendous storm, which runs them aground on a deserted island. Ben is now in charge. The apathy he once used to tolerate his brothers vanishes. Ben has to grow up fast.