N.T. Embe [Moved to Leafmarks]'s Reviews > Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
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Jul 03, 11

Recommended to N.T. Embe by: Picked it out of the school library in 7th Grade, along with a ton of other books.
Recommended for: Pre- and Young Teens, and those with a love for Cast-Away Tales~
Read on July 03, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 5

No matter how many times I read this book, I always enjoy it greatly. It takes after the style of books that are familiar in genre if not in the actual reading: the cast-away, who survives alone against the odds of the wilderness. Yet this book always stood out to me, because while it had so little actual dialogue, it was filled with the simple, down-to-earth ease and desire in many of us to watch this struggle for survival. Stranger yet, very rarely does one read of books like these where the main character is not a man, but is in fact a woman--a girl, in this case. Perhaps it is not so surprising, for this book was based on a true story, and the few perceptible details from the real life of the woman that experienced these things for eighteen years on this lonely island have created only a more vivid and richer experience for those that read about it.

It is timeless. No matter who the person, what the culture, or where they are left--let alone in what condition--when the story turns to a human being against all the forces of nature, it becomes something immobilized in the minds of its readers. For there is nothing in this scenario that we too cannot imagine, though we live far from uncivilized or unpopulated areas of the world normally. It is a situation that while we may never have seriously considered, we as human beings have always been aware of. How and could any of us survive in the wilderness? Let alone completely by ourselves! This story reads so smoothly, so swiftly that one would think you wouldn't notice the passage of time in this story. And yet, from day-to-day and season-to-season, the things that the main character, Karana, undergoes slowly build up in us a sense of a daily and seasonal routine that leaves the mind not with a weariness or boredom, but rather a sense that time is passing. And with time, things come and go, Karana learns, and she survives. She loses everyone, and at some points, almost everything, and still finds a will to keep going.

Yet what is most remarkable about this book is that never has a story been so relate-able and likewise so simple. Karana rarely speaks, and when she does, we are so aware of it because of how uncommon it is! Her culture and people are clearly different from a lot of what we know today, and yet these things come off as believable and do not tire out this story. Does it feel a little dated? Perhaps not "dated" but rather a bit "foreign." And yet still we are able to understand her and what she goes through. From the loneliness and desire to escape, to the drive to protect herself and thrive. To the way she tames the animals around her, and finds that with them, she can have friends and not be so completely alone...to the way she knows when it is time to leave, and how she does not miss her island, and yet also does not burst into emotional and exaggerated revelations at the prospect of seeing people again.

This tale is so finite and beautiful, because it does not need any unnecessary trappings to add anything else to it. The smallest details are enough, and what is not mentioned, we do not feel a desire for. It is, in a word: complete. And it is a tale that will bring strange and wonderful experiences to your imagination. I will not say I am in love with this book, but it is effortlessly captivating in a way that few books are or can ever be. Definitely a good experience, and I would say a collector's item that would be worth its place on anyone's bookshelf. But if this style is not the type for you, and you want something with more human-on-human drama (though there's enough sprinkled throughout~) then read it first before you decide on it. This may not be a book for everyone, and I'm sure some might find it too simple and therefore a little dull, but my own personal experience will have me recommend you to read it first. This is a book that has more to offer than you first may realize.
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Reading Progress

07/03/2011 page 0 "It was a long time ago that I began this book. It became a timeless story for me, held up like an island in my memories. A story of a girl against her small, lonely world, and how she survives.... It has influenced so much of my life since then. It will always be to me, one of the most beautiful, simple inspirations I could ever claim and keep close to me. *Smiles* So, after so many years, let me begin again~"
07/03/2011 page 13 "I love this part about having two names. It makes so much sense to me, and adds beauty and value to a name that many people take for granted. <3 Absolutely beautiful~"
07/03/2011 page 43 "XD Typical exchange between a boy and a girl. Girl says she can do better than him, boy says she's so ugly she'll scare away every man. *Laughs* Very wonderful piece of humor in the midst of all this trouble. ^__^ <3"
07/03/2011 page 47 "*Sighs* ...see kids? This is what happens when you don't listen to your elders. You end up in the worst of situations. >_<"
07/03/2011 page 55 "So much tragedy for so small a book... And yet it is full of so much on top of all of that. Only now, that things have been set completely... will the process of growth, and strange beauty begin."
07/03/2011 page 118 "It is parts like this in the book that made me realize something as I grew, through a childhood where trust was one of my greatest issues. To trust a human being was to risk everything. To trust an animal...brought peace and healing. Rontu did this for Karana, and from that moment on, I became closer to every animal in this world, for in each of them I saw an ally. Loyal, honest, and unfailing. Who would reject that?"
07/03/2011 page 146 "Gah! >_< This is nerve wracking! It makes me anxious about people being here! Maybe it's just survivor's instinct, but my brain keeps screaming, "GO AWAY! Don't get near them! They're dangerous! Stay far, far away from them!" *Shudders* People. >__<"
07/03/2011 page 161 "What a beautiful way of putting her world into perspective. *Smiles* I'm glad she said that. For me, and for many others, it's a priceless truth."
07/03/2011 page 165 "This one scene has never left me, all the years I read this book. The mound with pebbles of many colors to cover it.... Like a rainbow, I always imagined it. A myriad of every shade and hue, to cover the resting place of a great friend and companion."
07/03/2011 page 189 "And so it turns out that this story was based on the true tale of a woman who survived through much the same perils as did Karana. *Smiles* Somehow, it is stories like these that always touch us so simply and deeply, without needing fantastical things to astound us. The end, though understandable, is like a tangible mark left in the air. We can feel it, and this woman's story, for long after it has ended."

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