On Rough Seas
It’s 1940, and Alex Curtis is fourteen. He works at his parents’ hotel in Dover, England, but his heart already belongs to the sea, in spite of a watery tragedy that befell his family. Against his father’s wishes, he still hangs around the docks when he has time, however, and one day Captain Cairns, of the small-but-seaworthy Britannia, offers him a part-time job as a galley boy. Promising his parents he can do both his hotel chores and the galley work, Alex has an increasingly difficult time balancing his desire for adventure with the steadfastness needed by a real seaman; add in the appearance of Eva, a Jewish refugee his own age, the mysterious rumors about military involvement at a nearby castle, and the retreat of British soldiers from France, and suddenly Alex has all the adventure he can handle. This coming-of-age story covers real history—the remembered horrors of the Great War, the deprivations caused by the current war, the bloodbath at Dunkirk—which may appeal to young adult readers who long for a change from the usual offerings involving wizardry or interplanetary travel. Ages 9-12.