By Emily Price
Shortlisted for the Cilip Carnegie Medal 2020, Girl. Boy. Sea will immerse you in a story of survival on an unpredictable and never-ending ocean. Author Chris Vick keeps tension going throughout the book with honest detail as to what it would take to cling to life whilst stranded at sea. This middle grade book will have you racing through the pages at top speed, enthralled by the peril and suspense.
Off the coast of Morocco, a dangerous storm churns up the sea and leaves Bill all alone, clinging to life on tiny boat. After days spent dehydrated and adrift, he finds Aya, a young girl from the nomadic Berber tribe, floating on a barrel. As the sun bakes their skin and hunger gnaws at their bellies, they find hope in the magical tales that Aya weaves about self-indulgent sultans and girls brimming with bravery. When Aya and Bill finally reach land they’re disappointed in what they find. The strange boy on the tiny desert island is not the rescue they had hoped for and they must decide if they should make their way back out to sea where something terrifying lurks in the deep.
Girl. Boy. Sea is a story of resilience and friendship and Vick is able to convey the vastness of the ocean whilst still giving detail to the tiny world on the boat that Aya and Bill are stranded on. Aya’s tales and Bill’s diary entries are woven into the narrative allowing the reader to feel the story at more than one level. This novel shows us that even language barriers and cultural differences cannot stop a friendship from blooming.
Cover image Fan art by Karla Brading