________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 38 . . . . June 3, 2016


Call of the Sea.

Amanda Labonté.
Halifax, NS: Fierce Ink Press, 2015.
226 pp., trade pbk., $16.99.
ISBN 978-1-92774-691-2.

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Lacey Hall.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Leaning over the railing, he squinted through the mist. The gleam of something red, like fire on the water, caught the corner of his eye. He turned quickly. She floated, her head and naked shoulders the only part of her breaking the surface, her hair like a braided crown across her forehead. What was she doing out there? How was she there?

"You..." The word caught in his throat. She looked right at him. She couldn't have been more than a few feet away. The sound of footfalls drew his attention away and his insides clenched in hope. But it was Gerry, not Ben.

Alex and Ben O'Leary have spent their lives seeing a mysterious red headed girl out on the ocean and hearing an eerie song that pulls him toward the sea. For years they hadn't shared their secret with anyone except each other, but lately Ben has been acting different and hanging out with his new to town girlfriend, Meg. When Alex and Ben go out on a fishing day trip, Ben mysteriously vanishes in the middle of an argument between the boys, and, for a split second after, Alex sees the red headed girl in the water. Now Alex is under suspicion for his brother's disappearance, and he can't tell anyone what he saw – even if he did, who would believe him? This question is answered when Meg approaches him weeks later to tell him she thinks Ben is still alive, and that she knows about the red headed girl. With Meg's help, Alex tries to find out who the red headed girl is and whether she kidnapped his brother, as well as why his family has a history of disappearances and whether, as his Aunt Dot says, they truly are cursed. With betrayals and new found friendships along the way, Alex discovers an entirely new world, right in his very own town.

      Call of the Sea is extremely imaginative, intriguing and whimsical. The plot is driven forward rapidly, with heartbreak, deceit and romance throughout. The story's taking place over a number of weeks increases the stakes dramatically. Further to this, the family's history with disappearances places the present mystery within a much larger set one, thereby allowing for more connections and plot twists to be made.

      The writing in Call of the Sea is very straightforward and fitting for the age group. The male protagonist fighting for his brother is a unique character motivation, one which readers will find refreshing.

Highly Recommended.

Lacey Hall is a Master's of Children's Literature student at the University of British Columbia and works as the Dean's Assistant to the Dean of the School of Business at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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