Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Laurel Snyder
Publisher: Walden Pond Pres
Jinny and eight other children live on an idyllic island. Every year a boat arrives, taking the oldest child away and bringing a new child to be the youngest. This year, the boat takes Jinny's best friend, Deen. This makes her the new Elder, and the new child, Ess, is her "Care." As Jinny says goodbye to Deen and begins to teach Ess, questions arise. Who sends them to the island? Why do they do that? What would happen if she stays? When the boat comes for Jinny, she refuses to leave. As the consequences of her actions take effect, she reconsiders her decision in order to rescue the newest "Care."
This is a riveting, complex story that asks many questions and provides few answers. Each reader will interact with this story in a very personal way, which is the real power of this book. There are biblical references, literary references, themes of eco-responsibility, and tones of teen angst. Enticing hints and clues are sprinkled through the story and near the end the reader is as anxious as Jinny to find the answers! There is a wonderful tautness to the story as nature begins to express that, like it or not, consequences and responsibility are impossible to avoid. It is a moment all adults have navigated in their own ways. This story will stay in the reader's mind, provoking thoughtful questions. This book is not for younger readers, but it is a feast for thought.