Swimming Against the Storm

One of the reasons I wanted to read this book was because I teach topics on habitats and extreme weather, and thought this story would be perfect for my class.  And it is!  But, it’s also so much more than that! 

Two themes really struck a chord with me:  the devastating human and natural loss that happens to an ecosystem under threat, and the determination and courage of young people to take a stance and fight to protect their home.

When they discover that their home is under threat Eliza, her younger sister Avery and two of their friends decide that they are going to save it.  But how?  The children agree to go on a secret mission to find the legendary loup-garou who may be the key to saving their home before it is swallowed by the rising sea levels.

Their mission does not go according to plan as Avery becomes lost, and so begins an adventure full of determination and discoveries, with an underlying frisson of danger which permeates its way throughout the story. The gradual build-up of the hurricane is masterfully written, taking the children unawares and hurling them into a fight for survival. 

The writing opened a window into the breath-taking Louisiana wetlands landscape which gave me a mesmerising view of the marshlands, the bayou, the wildlife and climate:  it really made me appreciate the awesome beauty, and power, of nature.

As well as the powerful ecological message which permeates through this story, I also found the relationships between the children very authentic and touching.  The strong bond between them is grounded in friendship and love, especially between the two sisters, Erica and Avery.  The story is told through the viewpoint of Erica, the older sister, who feels the responsibility and, sometimes burden, of being the elder, but also has a powerful protective instinct towards her younger sibling.  Avery clearly adores her older sister, and has a more impetuous, strong-willed nature, which leads them all into danger, but also is the catalyst for the hope of saving their community.

I would highly recommend this book to children of 9+.

Thank you to Toppsta Book Giveaways and Hachette Children’s Group for my free copy for an honest review of the book.

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