Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Beyond the Bright Sea

Rate this book
Twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the starkly beautiful Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Abandoned and set adrift on a small boat when she was just hours old, Crow's only companions are Osh, the man who rescued and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbor across the sandbar.

Crow has always been curious about the world around her, but it isn't until the night a mysterious fire appears across the water that the unspoken question of her own history forms in her heart. Soon, a chain of events is triggered, leading Crow down a path of discovery and danger.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published May 2, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Lauren Wolk

6 books632 followers
Lauren Wolk is an award-winning poet and author of the bestselling Newbery Honor–winning Wolf Hollow, described by the New York Times Book Review as "full of grace and stark, brutal beauty." She was born in Baltimore and has since lived in California, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Canada, and Ohio. She now lives with her family on Cape Cod.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
4,514 (35%)
4 stars
5,629 (44%)
3 stars
2,080 (16%)
2 stars
380 (2%)
1 star
130 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,021 reviews
Profile Image for Julie G .
870 reviews2,681 followers
February 12, 2018
For the majority of my life, I never paid much attention to the word real.

I knew of The Velveteen Rabbit's famous line: What is real?

And I've known women throughout my life who have had nose jobs or breast implants and have been offended by people asking them if their alterations were “real.”

Prior to nine years ago, I had no attachment to the word real, nor was it a button pusher to me. But, nine years ago, we came home with a new baby daughter from China, and though we received hugs and smiles and many well-wishes, it wasn't long before strangers would come up to us, wherever we were, and ask me, in front of my new daughter, “Will she ever know her real mother?”

My son, who was 12 at the time, started reporting back to me that whenever he told people he had a new sister, they would correct him by saying, “Well, you mean an adopted sister. She's not your real sister, right?”

And, then, four years ago when we brought home another beautiful daughter, people would stop our girls out in public places and ask, “Is she your real sister?”

My family really started struggling with this. Were we not real? Were we surreal? Were we fake? Impostors?

What people mean, when they ask these questions, is . . . biological or birth or blood, but they rarely say that.

And, because I'm a little bit snarky, when they ask, “Will your girls ever know their real mother?” I sometimes answer, “Oh, yeah, and today they're thinking I'm a real bitch.”

And when they ask, “Are your girls real sisters? I typically answer, “Oh, they're really sisters, and they hate each other, but I think you're asking if they're biologically related?”

And once, just once, when a nasty woman at Costco looked down at my daughter and then said to me, “But, she's not your real daughter, is she?” I looked up at the woman's hair and asked, “Is that your real hair color?”

So, I struggle through this issue every day, and let me tell you, it's a real thing, but I had never encountered this being addressed in a book before.

And, here it is, the issue of real playing out in a book (hey, this is about a book after all!).

In Beyond the Bright Sea, a newborn baby washes upon the shore on the Elizabeth Islands and is taken in by a single man who goes by the name of Daniel. Daniel, without hesitating, takes in the baby and raises her. He names the girl Crow and she calls him Osh, and the reader is introduced to them as Crow is 12 and is wondering about her place in the world.

As a preteen Crow has become almost obsessively focused on her identity and her father is a man of few words. He's a loving man, but his silence provokes her to investigate her background on her own, and before long, she has information about her biological family. When she announces to Osh, “I think I know who my real parents are,” he becomes agitated and feels threatened and she doesn't understand his reaction to her words.

Osh is not terribly communicative, and he's inept at saying what he wants to say, which is. . . I am your real father.

But, despite his discomfort, he allows Crow to pursue her roots and draw her own conclusions, and, ultimately, this journey brings father and daughter closer together.

Crow unexpectedly learns through this process “that there are better bonds than blood.”

The author writes, in her Note at the end, “Writing this book reminded me that happiness is a matter of being where—and who—we want to be.”

And, I'd like to tell her. . . that reading this book and my own life experiences have brought me to the same conclusion.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,543 reviews33.9k followers
April 25, 2017
3.5 stars A baby is set adrift in the Elizabeth Islands in the 1920s. Why? The answer is revealed slowly, and Crow isn't sure what her adoptive father knows about it.

Luminous prose, quietly endearing characters, and sobering history. I loved so much of this beautiful middle grade book, and yet I'm mixed about one major subplot, much as I was with FOX HOLLOW. I think the story is engrossing enough--and frankly, more powerful without it. But it says something about the beguiling nature of the author's writing that I only needed to see her name to know that I wanted to read this. Jorjeana Marie's narration is just perfect for this story, too.

Review of come of the audio edition.
Profile Image for Danielle.
791 reviews387 followers
March 11, 2021
When a baby washes up on the shore of an island with a note and a ring, she’s taken in by a man. As she grows on the island, the locals treat her poorly- due to the assumption that she’s from a leper colony. 😬 While adults (like myself) may find this story lacking in some details, it’s a perfect middle grade mystery. 😉
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,711 followers
June 22, 2017
No author gets a free pass. Your last book have been a spot-on bit of brilliance, lighting up the literary landscape like a thousand Roman candles. Pfui. A writer is only as good as their latest book, as any jaded 10-year-old will tell you. And while I greatly enjoyed Lauren Wolk’s debut novel (and Newbery Honor winner) Wolf Hollow I also knew full well that the author originally intended that book to be a written work for adults. Beyond the Bright Sea, her next novel, is written specifically with a child audience in mind from the start. Would that change Wolk’s writing style at all? Could she maintain the same level of written sophistication if she knew the book was going to be read by young people, or would she veer off into the dreaded trying-too-hard territory known by too many authors all too well? Heck, would she even respect her audience or would she be writing down to them? In retrospect, I suspect that it didn’t matter much how I felt about the book walking into it. If I’d had high expectations, they would have been met. Low ones were simply exceeded. Beyond the Bright Sea is a slower, statelier novel than a lot of books out there, but once it reaches its full speed there’s no holding it back. Leprosy, pirate gold, orphans, shipwrecks, lost messages, they all crowd the pages and leave you coming back for more. Wolk actually knows how to write for kids, and not just that, write beautifully. The proof is in the pudding.

Crow says it was seeing that light on Penikese Island that started it all, but I don’t know if you’d agree. Maybe the real beginning was when Osh found her as a baby, washed up on the shore in a makeshift boat. Clearly her boat came from Penikese where the leprosy sanitarium was located. He could have turned her in to the proper authorities, but for a man escaping a past he’d never discuss, it was actually easier to raise her with the help of his neighbor Miss Maggie. Now Crow is older and she wants to know where she came from. Who her parents were. What she doesn’t know is that delving deep into the mystery will reveal a lot more than her family. There’s a man out there who thinks she has what he wants, and if Crow isn’t careful she’ll lose everything she has in pursuit of what she wants.

I certainly wouldn’t peg the book as a straight-up mystery, but after Chapter 10 that feeling does begin to pervade the pages. And if it is a mystery then Wolk is playing fair. She gives the kids all the clues they need, and no doubt some of them will solve some of the origins of Crow’s birth on their own. Wolk fills the book with mysterious happenings that are within a child’s grasp, and that goes double for the foreshadowing. Now I like to compare foreshadowing to spice. Some authors think the more you have, the better, and they’ll laden their chapters down with it so much that by the time the big event actually arrives it’s anti-climatic. Wolk is different. It isn’t that she uses less foreshadowing, she just parcels it out better. For example, a mention in the first chapter of the boat Crow arrived in and that Osh burned in the first makes her wonder why THAT particular wood got burnt. And yes, many is the chapter that ends with a breath of things to come, but they do what they are designed to do. They pull you further in.

In terms of character development, Wolk outdoes herself. We spend a long time with Osh, getting to know him as an outsider would, before Miss Maggie tells us a story that essentially reduces his personality down to its most perfect form. It's the story of meeting a man who, when starving, would cut only a single arm off of the starfishes he caught for starfish soup. His logic was that he would live and they would live. A WWI survivor (we’re never certain about the degree of his involvement, but there are some distinct moments of PTSD) he bears not a little similarity to another haunted war survivor in Wolk’s books. Toby, the shell-shocked man in Wolf Hollow was far more damaged than Osh, but maybe if he’d found a way to cut himself off from the wider world (as Osh does) and care for someone, he would have thrived. Curiously, while we get great swaths of story with Osh, we know almost nothing about the other adult in Crow’s life, Miss Maggie. Why does she live alone? What was her life like once? And in true keeping with a child’s perspective regarding the adults around her, we never get a clear sense of Maggie and Osh’s ages. Some mysteries are not meant to be solved.

If Osh and Toby share similarities, what are we to make of Wolk’s latest villain? After reading Wolf Hollow I was struck by a single, piercing thought. The character of Betty in that book is, without a doubt, the most chilling psychopath I’d ever encountered in a tale for kids. And for a while there it seemed as though Beyond the Bright Sea didn’t have a baddie at all. When at last you do meet him, you don’t realize him for what he is (or the threat he represents) at first. It’s only when you get to know him better that you realize he’s actually the polar opposite of Betty. While she was a cunning little girl, able to use society’s expectations to her advantage, the man in this book is dumb as a box of rocks. By the internal logic of children’s literature itself that should make him less of a threat. Dumb villains are easy to outsmart and therefore pose no real harm, right? But it’s quite the opposite here. And as it happens he does share one particular quality with our dear Betty: He’s unpredictable. And unpredictability, as anyone can tell you, can get you killed.

Now Wolk’s the kind of writer where you feel this strange palpable sense of relief, if you’re a children’s librarian, delving into her book for the first time. Relief, that is, that she’s such an excellent writer. The kind of writer that makes you want to quote lines from her book out of context. That’s always my instinct, and why not? Here are some choice examples that I particularly enjoyed:

• “… feeling hurt and being hurt aren’t always the same thing.” (Re: leprosy)
• “What you do is who you are.”
• “So that’s writ in stone. The rest in water.”
• “… there are better bonds than blood.”

But would a kid actually want to read it? Well, that’s sort of a trick question, isn’t it? As any children’s librarian worth their salt knows, you can get a kid to read anything if you sell it to them correctly. A co-worker pointed out to me recently that the first chapter or so is relatively slow, compared to the rest of the book. That’s a bit unfortunate. Slow passages are fine, particularly if they are of a literary bent, but you wouldn’t usually kick off your book with them right from the start. Still, once the plot gets moving you’re in for a heck of a ride. There is true villainy and true love on these pages. There’s the mystery of adults who have learned too much and the foolishness of children who only want to learn more. A kid reading this book will read it on one level, an adult on another, and history clearer still. A bright, beautiful read.

For ages 10-14.
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,195 reviews398 followers
February 18, 2021
3.5 stars. Frustratingly we didn't enjoy most of the book as much as Wolf Hollow but at least the ending wasn't so devastatingly sad, this one felt as though it was written for children whereas Wolf Hollow felt like an adult read due to the really depressing end. In this story we end with some hope but as we thought might happen, this author decided that Although this is realistic, we don't expect complete conclusions or to find totally happy endings, but it did seem a bit needlessly cruel, especially given the ending of Wolf Hollow.

This is a well told and interesting story of the lives of several people living on the Elizabeth Islands, a story of the 1920s and of a happy family of non related people and a nearby island that was once a home to people affected by leprosy. The mystery was good and the characters were interesting. It felt frustrating not to find what Crow was searching for and although I don't necessarily want all loose ends tied up with a happy ending it felt unnecessary to leave out such a big conclusion we were hoping for.

I would definitely read any book this author wrote, there are some wonderful elements to these stories but we are suspecting unhappy or unresolved endings now, judging from other books we have read.
Profile Image for Karina.
802 reviews
January 29, 2019
3.5... It is a book for ages 10+... I have had so much going on in life right now that I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I would have if I had more down time. But if I put myself as a, let's say, 12 yr old and read this I think it's a cute and quick, interesting story.

The story is set in Massachusetts off the Elizabeth Islands. Crow was sent adrift in a small boat as a couple hours born baby and found by Osh. Miss Maggie is the only neighbor who isn't scared of her touching or sneezing. The islanders believe she came from the leper colony of Penikese. She wants to know who sent her and why... but as the story unfolds she learns more about what is important and not what the world tells her is important. She is a strong, kind hearted little woman. I enjoyed knowing her.
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,067 reviews359 followers
February 10, 2019
Ahoy there me mateys! The title and the cover for this one is what drew me in. I just love the image of the feather blending into the waves. When I found out this was a historical mystery tale set in the 1920s I knew I had to read it.

Twelve year-old Crow doesn’t know anything about her past. She washed ashore in a small boat on a tiny island when she was only a few hours old. She was raised by an older man named Osh and his neighbor Maggie. Crow used to consider her life to be pretty much perfect. Sure there isn’t really any money but Crow loves her world of three. But as she gets older, she begins to really question why none of the other islanders will get near her and where she really came from. But Crow finds that with the questions comes a sense of unease about her identity and where she belongs. This is Crow’s journey of discovery.

It is really a beautiful tale. The writing is wonderful and could be very lyrical. The characters are unique and lovely. I loved all three members of the trio. Osh, in particular, was me favourite character. He was gruff, tender, and caring. I absolutely adored reading about island life. I loved that Crow’s search also leads to frustration and concern in the adults. I enjoyed that assumptions and prejudices were challenged over and over again. I thought it was great to see how hurt can sometimes be caused by difference in temperament and emotions.

The mystery isn’t a mystery for long but I thought the author’s choices were both unexpected and fascinating. The ending in particular was rather bold and unorthodox and I loved it. The only really negative for this one was that the bad guy was very two dimensional but I didn’t care because of Crow and Osh and Maggie. I loved witnessing their love, care, and concern for each other.

I very much enjoyed this experience. The author’s other book wolf hollow also be on me list. I be excited for it! Arrrr!

Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...
Profile Image for Figgy.
678 reviews220 followers
August 26, 2019

The relationships between Crow, Osh, and Miss Maggie are sweet, tangible, and realistic, and the reader can’t help but feel like they’re a part of this odd little family. And the historical mystery, inspired by the real leper colony of Penikese is definitely interesting. Though there is a certain amount of telling rather than showing in the course of the story, which leaves the moments of danger and high-emotion somewhat subdued.

The telling of the story, combined with a somewhat rushed nature and quite few coincidences, means that the reader might feel a certain level of disconnect, while at the same time cheering the characters on and viewing them with affection.

The rest of this review can be found HERE!

- Pre-review -

Overall a sweet story with some lovely relationships, but a little telly and not particularly strong in emotion.
Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,127 reviews724 followers
July 4, 2017
An excellent new middle grade classic that I would highly recommend as a replacement for ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS in all classrooms (so much has been written about the portrayal of American Indians in IOTBD - if you still use that book in the classroom, seek out a modern analysis before reading again) - BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA retains much of the adventure, island life and abandoned child storylines that draw readers to that old story.

Admittedly, this book was a rather slow start for me as I recently finished ORPHAN ISLAND by Laurel Snyder and the storylines seemed similar at the start (abandoned children set afloat in boats to wash up on islands), but not long into BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA, I fell in love with Crow, Osh, and Miss Maggie. One thing I loved about Wolk's telling of this story was the timelessness of it - it took reading the fascinating author's note at the end of the book to discover she was writing about the 1920s. This is a story of the Atlantic coastal islands, of course, but it is also a story of belonging, family and love.

Required purchase for all elementary and middle school libraries, and highly recommended as a middle grade read aloud.
Profile Image for Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words).
387 reviews948 followers
March 9, 2023
Beautifully written. Lovely characters (who are both lovable and flawed—which is so important to me!) and setting and premise. Very close to a five star for me. This is one of those books that I need to sit with for awhile and come back to rate—I’m just not ready yet. But it was all around beautiful!

Profile Image for Abby Johnson.
3,373 reviews309 followers
July 11, 2017
What a treasure of a book. Gorgeous lines of prose are woven into this historical novel. It maybe is a tiny bit overwritten, as I kept pausing to notice these beautiful turns of phrase. The Northeast island setting is so fully realized that it's almost another character in the book. With a plucky heroine, a strong sense of place, interesting characters, and a little bit of a mystery, there's something for many readers here.

Hand this to readers who like:

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko for its atmospheric history...
Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord for its celebration of island life...
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage for Mo's search for her mother and the quirky characters in their town (much different voice, though)...
Profile Image for ~ Cheryl ~.
324 reviews4 followers
June 24, 2020

With a GR average rating of 4.13, I sure am in the minority here....

What a disappointment. I think my disappointment was so keenly felt because Beyond the Bright Sea started out so well.

A book that starts out like this,

My name is Crow.
When I was a baby, someone tucked me into an old boat and pushed me out to sea.
I washed up on a tiny island, like a seed riding the tide.

promises very good things. The writing was positively lyrical in those first few chapters; it had that perfect rhythm and economy of words, especially for a read-aloud story. My interest was piqued. I settled in eager to hear about this unusual girl, found and taken in by a man whose origins are just as mysterious as hers.

But then the writing became humdrum, and Crow, our narrator, increasingly talked in circles. Later, the story veered off in directions that did not do justice to the premise. The second half was padded out with the needless insertion of a very Scooby-Doo-ish jewel thief and buried treasure bit. And the entire time, the author kept up an unrelenting barrage of boring and meaningless nautical terms.

And the stage directions!
This is something that drives me nuts in books. I don’t need a run-on sentence telling me that a character “made my way through a maze of corridors, out through a door into a yard with, finally, trees, across the yard and the street beyond and up the walkway to the steps of another building,…,through the door, down a corridor, and up a flight of stairs to a ward where…”

I tripped over passages like that over and over. I don’t know; maybe it’s me. Such details are often necessary, but it kept interrupting the flow and feeling like filler, or just plain lazy writing.

And I won’t even elaborate on the annoying gimmick where characters have a conversation right in front of you, but don’t tell you, the reader, the “thing” (the answer they discovered; the hiding spot; etc.).

So, it’s a middle grade book, and the themes of family ties and contentment make it a worthy story to spark a discussion. But sadly, it fell short of what could have been excellent on many levels. Overall, it was a slow and disappointingly boring story. I wish it had been mediocre from page one. Because it promised good things, but delivered something else entirely.
Profile Image for Barb Middleton.
1,641 reviews122 followers
December 4, 2017
This writer's use of figurative language, word choice, and character development is the strength of this book. The plot was a bit predictable in spots and the main character's dialogue is with adults only. The protagonist has no other children her age and she sounds very mature. The foreshadowing allows the adult reader to figure the plot out perhaps quicker than a younger reader. I thought the start was slow and then picked up. The characters self-preservation was missing in some tense moments and seemed out of character. The story involves leprosy and prejudice which makes it a minefield for discussions.

Profile Image for Jessica Mae.
217 reviews27 followers
July 26, 2018
This one is a winner. 😊 Lauren Wolk is an expert storyteller that reeled me in from the first few pages. That's saying a lot, since this was kind of a filler book for me, in between some others I was anxious to get to.

"Beyond the Bright Sea" is a simple, beautiful story of a girl who floated onto an island as a newborn and works to find out where she came from. Not the most original concept, I'll admit, but it still held my interest. It was the historical context that gave it the interesting twist it needed. It was more obscure and not something I'd learned much about. The perfect mix of something that has and hasn't been done before.

Along with that, there were the lovely descriptions of seaside life, and the cute relationship between Crow, Osh, and Ms. Maggie. It was a joy to read, and a great summer read, too. I wouldn't be surprised if this gets made into a movie in the near future. Also, the audiobook version is narrated wonderfully. I loved Osh's voice/accent especially.

And as one last sidenote: THE COVER IS BEAUTIFUL. ❤️ It was a big reason why I picked up this book in the first place. Bravo. 👏👏
Profile Image for Chloe Hey.
277 reviews37 followers
May 11, 2021
I really enjoyed this book- it was nice, the ending kind of made it flat for me, hence, 2 stars.
But overall do not regret reading it (and that cover! So pretty!)

Characters: they were a nice group to see in your minds eye, but I never really felt like they became fully real as other characters have in other books. Crow was the most authentic character, and as the narrator, she’s most important.

Plot: I’m really unsure on what the plot really was. Some things were just declared they weren’t going to be told to us in the end and that ruined the book for me.

I also learned that Morgan means “bright sea” and that is so beautiful to me!
Profile Image for Scott Fillner.
266 reviews35 followers
February 26, 2017
"Happiness is a matter of being where---and who---we want to be." Even though this quote was specifically found in the A Note About this Book section...the message rang true in all the characters Lauren created in this amazing story.

Beyond the Bright Sea is another breathtaking historical fiction story written by Lauren Wolk. Just like her last novel Wolf Hollow, Lauren is able to take readers on an amazing journey. Her writing is beautifully mezmoring! She has a remarkable gift of being able to bring to life setting and characters that make you feel you know. She is able to make something that you have never visited, or know very little about, and make it feel like a place you call home.

I am not sure what is in store for this book in the future, but to take a quote from one of the characters in this novel Osh, I know this book will captivate and stick with others for a long time to come. He said... "Sometimes...people know things. They don't learn them. They don't figure them out. They don't discover them. They know them. And it doesn't matter what anyone else has to say about it."
Profile Image for Katie Fitzgerald.
Author 3 books196 followers
December 7, 2017
Once an infant in a skiff washed up on the shore of a tiny piece of land among the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts. Osh, the only man who lived there, found the baby, named her Crow, and began to care for her with the help of Miss Maggie, his neighbor on the nearby island of Cuttyhunk. Now it is 1925, and twelve-year-old Crow is happy with her little family, but she wishes she knew more about where she came from. The Cuttyhunk locals are convinced she came from Penikese, an island which previously housed a leper colony, and they are wary of her, refusing to make physical contact with her, to handle objects which she has touched, or to allow her to attend school for fear of contracting leprosy. When a scientist comes to Penikese to study birds, Crow notices his fire burning across the water one night, and she feels a sudden urge to also visit the island to seek clues about her origin. From here, Crow sets into motion a series of surprising events that lead to the truth about her identity, both in the past, as a newborn baby and now, as a young girl.

Lauren Wolk's sophomore children's novel, published on the heels of her Newbery Honor book, Wolf Hollow, is another piece of truly excellent writing. Unlike Wolf Hollow, which was initially written for adults, Beyond the Bright Sea was written with a child audience in mind, and it perfectly captures everything I think about when I imagine the quintessential middle grade novel. Everything about this book feels real and true: the insular setting, the quirky and unusual characters, the historical details about leprosy, and, most of all, the character of Crow. Akin to someone like Bo from Bo at Ballard Creek or Omakayas from The Birchbark House, she is an appealing optimist, equally loving toward her found family and curious about the one she lost, respectful of the adults who care for her, but also stubborn in her desire to know the truth at any cost. Osh, the wary and private older man who has become her adoptive father is her perfect foil: pessimistic where she is positive and uncertain where she is completely sure and secure. Osh and Miss Maggie are also the kind of adults lacking in the lives of most middle grade protagonists. The fact that they take Crow seriously and give her the latitude to explore the questions that concern her make them feel like real-life parents who truly love their child. These three characters form a wonderfully complex family unit that stirs up strong emotions in the reader.

But why, you ask, would a middle grade reader want to read historical fiction about a leper colony in the first place? Well, because this is not really a book about leper colonies, or even about the 1920s. Wolk uses these historical elements to tell a story that deals with universal questions and concerns. All kids, even those who have always known their parents, are curious about the way they were as young children, and about incorporating facts about their pasts into their images of themselves in the present. All kids, too, enjoy reading about characters who feel believable and whose success matters to them. Crow doesn't come across as someone living nearly 100 years ago. Instead, she is presented as a spirited girl with an appealing personality and a strong sense of determination that today's kids can easily appreciate and love. Sure, if you try to sell this to a middle school kid by telling her it's a historical fiction novel about lepers, you're not going to get far. But if you introduce a reader to Crow, I'm convinced that reader will follow her wherever she leads because she is compelling, and everything else in the book - from lepers to orphanages - becomes interesting because the story is hers.

In the old days, before politics overtook the ALA Youth Media Awards, I would have stated with complete confidence that this book would be the clear Newbery winner this winter. As things stand now, with committees yearly trying to push the envelope of what is Newbery-worthy, however, I will tentatively predict another honor and just keep my fingers crossed in case there is any chance of more. Truly, though, Beyond the Bright Sea is the best book I read in 2017. It was fast-paced, suspenseful, realistic, and emotional, with a very satisfying conclusion. I recommend it very highly and I look forward to more from the amazing Lauren Wolk.

This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.
Profile Image for Victor The Reader.
1,241 reviews15 followers
December 15, 2022
“Bright Sea” is about a young girl named Crow, who was abandoned as a baby and raised in the Elizabeth Islands during the 1920s. Despite being raised by a man named Osh and their neighbor Miss Maggie, she has become curious that maybe her real family might be out there and she plans to travel outside the islands that will change the life of her and her loved ones.

Crow’s story is a very emotional one about who your family truly is and where home is. Definitely a brightness found in the “Bright Sea”. A- (91%/Excellent)
Profile Image for Reid.
884 reviews60 followers
January 28, 2018
After reading this lovely book, I had to pause and wonder exactly what it was about it that makes me feel the immediacy of the emotion and action of this plot, more so than most adult novels. (For this one is clearly designed for (I would guess) middle school readers).

This also caused me to reflect on what leads me to consider a particular book especially profound it its effect and meaning. I had to conclude (somewhat to my chagrin), that the more interiority there is to the novel, the more introspection and delving into the depths of the human psyche, the more respect I seem to have for it.

Not that this book doesn't go deep, but it occurs to me that much of the navel-gazing in which so many adult books engage is, at best, self-indulgent nonsense. Not all of it, certainly. I would be very sad if Dostoyevsky had suddenly decided to shift to composing more superficial stories. But my experience delving into young adult and older children's literature lately leads me to believe that there is real merit in the emotions and intentions of characters remaining much closer to the surface.

Perhaps it is the stodgy old guy in me (and I guarantee it is not prudishness), but I also rather enjoy the fact that sex doesn't play much of a part in most of these books. Yes, I know, children in middle school and beyond are very aware of the fact of sexuality and I don't begrudge those books that deal frankly with it, such as Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which I quite enjoyed. But there is a certain pure pleasure in a story that focuses on the other thousand things we are concerned about day in and day out that are not sex.

The story here is that of Crow, a young girl who washed up on the shore of an island of the coast of Massachusetts and was taken in by a man who himself had come to that island in rather mysterious circumstances. He is her protector and guide, while she brings a reason for living that he might not have had otherwise. Also populating their world is a variety of people and animals that are affectionately and credibly drawn, in particular Miss Maggie, their neighbor, confidant, friend, and mother figure.

All in all, this is simply a lovely tale full of pathos, mystery, danger, and reprieve. But mostly it is full of love and sweetness. And I'm not at all sure we can get too much of those.
Profile Image for April Moody.
485 reviews1 follower
May 9, 2017
I absolutely loved this book. It's my favorite book in 2017 thus far. So beautifully written... I loved Lauren Wolk's writing in Wolf Hollow- and her lovely writing style was just as touching in this story.

Strapped inside a small boat, a new born baby girl washed up on the shore of one of the Elizabeth Islands off of the coast of Massachusetts in 1925. She is taken in by a man she later calls Osh who promptly named her Crow. He and Miss Maggie from the nearby Island Chuttyhunk care for her and love her deeply.

Most of the people living in Chuttyhunk are kind, yet keep their distance because they fear that Crow was cast adrift from Penikese Island which used to be a Leper colony.

Though Crow loves Osh and Maggie dearly, she yearns to find out where she came from. Her discoveries take her on an unexpected journey that ends up being more than she bargained for. Crow learns sweet lessons about love and what it means to be a family.
Highly recommended for 5th grade and up!
Profile Image for Michele Knott.
3,556 reviews154 followers
April 16, 2017
I feel like one of the signs of a fantastic writer is someone who can slip into a new story and make it different from what they've written before but still contain the writing magic.
Lauren Wolk has done that in her next book BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA. I imagine it would be difficult to follow a Newbery Honor book, but this next one certainly holds its own.
This next book has its similarities to WOLF HOLLOW - historical fiction, a main character who is able to see beyond the initial view of those around her - but is a completely different story and feels very different. Once I was drawn into the story, I found it difficult to leave the characters.
Profile Image for Kerry Johnson.
Author 4 books68 followers
May 22, 2017
I really, really loved this startlingly beautiful middle grade story. Though a little slow in the beginning, I truly enjoyed each moment, each scene with Crow, Osh, Maggie, and Mouse.

A gorgeous portrayal of family and the questions that haunt us, but also sometimes bring us back to ourselves, Beyond the Bright Sea settles the reader right smack onto Cuttyhunk Island with the characters. And the author's writing & descriptions? So stark and unique and lovely I'd stop reading and reread the lines that really caught me.

There were a lot of them.

Highly recommend this historical middle grade to readers of all ages. I've already purchased this author's debut, Wolf Hollow.
Profile Image for Judy.
3,047 reviews51 followers
March 11, 2019
Impressive! I'm glad to see that this won the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction, but I'm wondering why it didn't receive recognition from the Newbery reviewers. As a child, I'm sure I would have loved Crow's story. As an adult, the characters, the setting, and the slice of history captured my attention and kept me reading longer than I should have. Most everything I want to say would be a spoiler, so I'm going to end here ... almost.

A 4-page Author's Note explains what's fact and what's fiction.

I do have one small criticism: Salt water does NOT boil faster than plain water.

I'll watch for other books by Wolk.
Profile Image for Brenda Kahn.
3,647 reviews53 followers
July 16, 2017
Another beautifully layered, complex and totally new story from Wolk. I adored Wolf Hollow and this one as well. Crow is a wonderfully memorable character as are her caregivers, Osh and Miss Maggie. The setting is vividly evoked and the suspense was high. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for KC.
2,391 reviews
August 23, 2017
Coming off the heels of her last novel, her stunning Wolf Hollow, Lauren Wolk tells the tale of a 12 year old girl named Crow. It's the 1920's and baby Crow is sent adrift aboard a small boat where a man named Osh finds her. While being raised on the New England island of Cuttyhunk, Crow befriends her neighbor, Miss Maggie. All Crow has ever wanted was to know was who she was, where she came from, who her family was, and why they abandoned her. Wolk has a way of filling each page with a poetic flow and writes with an incredible spirit and maturity and you often forget she writes for children. If you ever have visited Cape Cod, Newport, or coastal Rhode Island and have enjoyed the Island of Blue Dolphins, than you most certainly will take pleasure in Beyond the Bright Sea.
Profile Image for E.G. Bella.
Author 2 books39 followers
September 17, 2022
I don't know how to describe this book other than beautiful.
When I found it, I didn't realize that it's considered middle-grade, or that the prose/story would be simpler than I expected. At least externally. But the themes and truths explored, the glimpses into the characters' hearts and how real they were, those were far from simple. I enjoyed this book, and was continually struck by how effortlessly and beautifully hard truths were addressed. I absolutely loved the characters I was meant to love, detested the ones I was meant to detest, and - while the first few chapters were slow - the book gripped me after that.
I'm so glad I read this one, and would absolutely recommend it.
Profile Image for madame Gabrielle.
573 reviews430 followers
March 20, 2022
comme j’ai aimé m’attacher à Corneille, à Miss Maggie et à Osh. je n’avais aucune attente en m’embarquant dans cette aventure et je l’ai aimée beaucoup, la quête de Corneille.
je recommande parce que c’est doux, parce que les personnages sont si attachants et parce que la morale est belle sans bon sens et prend justement tout son sens.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,021 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.