Beyond the Bright Sea

Written by Lauren Wolk
Review by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

In 1913, a baby is born. A few hours later, the infant is placed in a boat and set to sea. She is rescued by a fisherman named Osh, who lives alone on a small, nameless island, one of the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts. Osh names the baby Crow and raises her with the help of Miss Maggie, who lives in nearby Cuttyhunk.

Osh and Miss Maggie aren’t afraid of Crow, but many of the islanders are. It’s possible that Crow was born on Penikese Island, where leprosy patients were quarantined. Also, Crow has dark skin and all her neighbors are white. By the age of twelve, Crow’s curiosity about herself is set to bursting. Was she from the leper colony? Was she from somewhere else? The hospital on Penikese Island was shut down years ago and all the patients moved, so Crow writes to a doctor, hoping to discover if a baby was ever born on the island. Osh is hurt that Crow is not satisfied with her life and him as her father.

This is the story of a girl trying to discover who she is and who she wants to be, but it is also a fast-paced thriller with kidnapping and buried treasure, a murderous escaped convict, and a shipwreck. Crow, Osh and Miss Maggie are wonderful characters, quirky and lovable and real. The lessons Crow learns about people and herself are profound. The sea crashes, and the smell of salt and fish and ocean spray will make you feel drenched as you read. The writing is fabulous. For ages 10 and up. Highly recommended.