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3.94  ·  Rating details ·  102 ratings  ·  40 reviews
This middle-grade historical novel follows three young girls living very different lives who are connected by one bottle that makes two journeys across the ocean.

It's 1854 and eleven-year-old Bones is a slave on a Virginia plantation. When she finds her name in the slave-record book, she rips it out, rolls it up, and sets it free, corked inside a bottle alongside the carv
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Charlesbridge
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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  102 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Eleven-year-old Agnes May "Bones" is enslaved in Virginia along with her Mama and Granny. Her Papa was sold off when she was too little to remember him. In her heart, Bones is as free as Miss Liza, her young mistress and companion. Bones stores away forbidden knowledge from Miss Liza against the time when she will need it. When plans go awry, Bones tosses a bottle containing a forbidden secret into the James River. Hopefully someone, somewhere, will know that Agnes May Brewster lives. A year lat ...more
When done well, middle grade historical fiction both entertains and educates what can sometimes be a reluctant audience. Jane Smolik’s “Currents” earns high marks in the education category, but doesn’t rate as highly in the all-important entertainment category.

“Currents” links together the lives of three girls living in 1854. Bones is a slave on a Virginia plantation; Bess is a Lord’s daughter in England; and Mary Margaret is an Irish immigrant living in Boston. Although they never meet, their l
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Find this review and more fantastical things at The Leaning Tower of Tomes.

Source: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Charlesbridge!

The review:

Currents is a really lovely book that follows the lives of three completely different girls living in the 1800s: Bones, a slave on a Virginia plantation, Bess, a British Duke’s daughter, and Mary Margaret, an Irish immigrant living in Boston. I loved the idea of a “message in a bottle” being carried by the
Rana G.
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Net Galley for the opportunity to review this book.

Currents is a historical novel that begins in 1854 with a young slave girl named Bones. She is whipped and punished for being taught to read by the owner's daughter, but Bones continues reading whatever she can get her hands on. When dusting the library, she comes across her birth record and tears the page out of the book. Realizing the trouble she will get in when the owners realizes the missing page, Bones rolls the paper into a jar
Julie Williams
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book follows the lives of 3 girls who are connected by a bottle that is thrown into the sea and carried adrift. The story starts with Agnes May or "Bones" who is a slave in Virginia who is whipped for learning to read and write. When she finds a ledger with her name and birthdate she rips it out and puts it and a heart made from a peach pit into a bottle and sets it adrift. The bottle is found by Lady Bess who is the daughter of the Duke of Kent. Lady Bess has her own troubles - one of whic ...more
Vonia Adams
May 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: middle school students
This book had a slow start but eventually warmed up. It illustrates how the lives of three girls of the same age who live very different lives in different places, become interconnected through a travelling glass baootle in the ocean. The girls never meet but the bottle and the paper inside have some significance for all the girls. Currents is amazingly well researched and is great for middle school aged students, being both interesting and historically accurate.
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I received it as an advanced reading copy and just thoroughly enjoyed it. Each of the girls were interesting, and so was the story of the bottle. Throwing a bottle into the ocean is something I have always thought of doing, and the story was done really well with this idea. I liked the way it made a full circle.
Valerie McEnroe
This books deserves more recognition than it's gotten. It's a novel way to connect separate stories. From an American perspective, two important aspects of our history are represented: slavery and Irish immigration.

Three separate and very different lives are connected through a bottle tossed into the James River. Bones is a slave on a Virginia plantation. She makes the mistake of allowing the mistress's daughter to teach her to read. For that mistake she gets a severe whipping. She has a peach p
Celia Buell
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Shelves: to-reread, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 24, 2015 rated it liked it
I really enjoy reading middle-school historical fiction, especially one's that feature fierce girls fighting for their place in the world. Currents fits the bill and it brought to life three girls, one who is brutalized and two mistreated and dominated through unjust life circumstances. I am glad the author started with Bones, the slave girl who is whipped and abused for trying to learn to read and find her name in birth records. It was critical for Bones to know her name at a time when slave's ...more
Lori Shafer
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of American Girl, Dear America, My America
Currents reminds me of the American Girl, My America and other similar series. The novel is the story of three young girls who lives could not be more different, yet are entwined by fate. Agnes May, also known as Bones, is a slave on a plantation in the South. She begins to learn life lessons no child should get. She realizes she is property. She finds out her real name and her nickname. She learns how cruel life could be, but decides to make sure her name is remembered.

Across the sea, Bess is
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nkyclear
Smolik successfully links the stories of three very different girls, representing different historical and social aspects of the mid-1800s, by using the ‘message in a bottle’ device with a twist. The artifacts added by the girls are important indicators of their social statuses (a slave and a lady); Mary Margaret’s use of one artifact to improve her family’s lot also involves her place in society. As the girls are from varying classes and different years within the same decade, Smolik can explor ...more
Merrilyn Tucker
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
In the mid 1800s, Bones, a young slave girl in Virginia, puts her birth document in a bottle and sets it in the James River. The bottle floats to the Isle of Wight in England, where Bess, a well-to-do girl who wants to be an explorer, finds it. She places a necklace in it and sets the bottle afloat. This time, it follows the current back to the U.S. to Boston. Mary Margaret, who finds the bottle, needs the money that the necklace brings at a pawnshop to support her ailing sister. Finally, the ne ...more
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Nice mid-grade novel, all the main characters are likeable enough (but sometimes feel a bit cookie-cutter) and the disparate plots lines are tied together fairly well without feeling really contrived. I like the use of reading material, it makes a great connection. The story starts out slow for each character but improves as each hit their stride.

I wish the pace had been a little steadier, because the quick looks at different lives in one era tied serendipitously could have really grabbed indiff
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful story cleverly interwoven as three. It's a story fraught with danger, loss, adventure, and hope. Three girls in three very different situations, are all connected by a bottle. Yet as each piece of their story unfolds they do have something in common. All three know the sting of loved one's deaths. All three have great hopes and dreams for a better future. All three unwittingly helped each other. All because of some currents and a bottle. I enjoyed how Jane gave just enough of ...more
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book about how the lives of 3 young girls in 1854 are connected by a message in a bottle that travels to each of them. It is a good way to introduce historical fiction from 3 different perspectives--a slave girl, a wealthy heiress in England, and a poor Irish immigrant in Boston. There are many other small ways their stories are connected, showing how similar people's lives can be even when they seem very different.
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-and-kidlit
This story follows the lives of three girls whose stories are connected by a bottle thrown into the sea. The device works well, and all the stories are equally interesting (which isn't always the case in books like this one). The writing is excellent, and it's interesting to see how different three lives at various places in the same era can be. An appealing historical fiction debut.
Anne Guthrie
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love historic fiction and this is a wonderful selection for middle grades. It's so well researched and gives the audience a glimpse of three girls in 3 very different cultural settings during the same time period.
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: all, historical-fiction, j
Three young girls, a slave in Virginia, an heiress in England and an a Irish immigrant in Boston all are connected by a bottle drifting in the ocean. I really enjoyed their stories and the small connections between them.
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Intriguing story of three girls united by a message in a bottle. Upper grade school and middle school kids will love the story. I loved the way the bottle drifted across the ocean with a message, then returned with the same message and a cross to unite three girls and their families.
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and so did my 9 yo granddaughter. Each of the girls and her story was appealing. Although the links established between the girls were not realistic, I liked the way they tied the story together. We both hope that Jane Smolik writes many more books!
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very well researched!
Dayna Dimarco
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Good historical fiction giving the viewpoint of 3 girls in 3 places, 1 time period.
Elizabeth Bober
Mar 11, 2016 rated it liked it
A fun story braiding the lives of three very different young women in the 1850s. The theme -INJUSTICE! - looms large but hey, it's a MG book.
May 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Using a glass bottle across the Atlantic, these characters share the stories of their lives. I enjoyed getting to know them.
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great story of 3 unique girls. I would love to read more about each of their lives!
Linda George
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wonderful historical fiction.
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: booktalks
Could not put this book down!
Victoria F
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing

This historical fiction novel by Jane Petrlik Smolik is a story about three young girls living completely different lives who are connected by a bottle that made two journeys across the ocean. Eleven-year-old Bones lives on a plantation in Virginia as a slave. One day she finds her name in the record book for slaves at her plantation. She rips it out, puts it in a bottle, and sets it free. The bottle makes a journey across the Atlantic to the Isle of Wight where Lady Bess Kents and her sister di
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