Thursday, December 14, 2017

Survivor Diaries: Overboard! by Terry Lynn Johnson

I've spent the last few years basically buying anything that mentions "survival" in its title and trying to keep enough copies on the shelf to satisfy the voracious reading habits of my library audience. There are two general categories of these stories, one is historical fiction like the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis and the other is natural disasters with a more contemporary feeling. This falls in the latter category.

The premise of this series is a reporter interviewing kids who have survived real-life experiences. He's interviewing eleven-year-old Travis, who was washed overboard by a giant wave in the dangerously cold waters off the coast of Washington. Accompanied only by Marina, the boat captain's daughter, the two must overcome panic, injury, and their own fears and worries. Marina, at first the strong, competent one, slowly succumbs to her injuries and the cold, leaving Travis to try to stay calm and use what she's told him to help them survive. Ultimately, he must overcome his previous fears from a bad accident in gymnastics to get help.

The story ends with an author's note and real-life survival tips from the Coast Guard. There were a couple things that confused me - the tips say not to swim but the kids swim for shore and the picture of the HELP position doesn't match the description. But these are pretty minor in the scheme of things. The burden of the adventure is shared equally by Marina and Travis - Marina is the one who has the knowledge to survive, but her injuries eventually force Travis to take over and face his fears. Travis' weight is mentioned several times, first at the beginning when his brothers tease him, and again by the reporter at the end, when he explains that he's rejoined the gymnastics team and lost weight. Marina reveals that her dad is a single parent, since her mom left them when she was young. Although there's not much suspense involved (the reader knows right away that they survived) the action is brisk and interesting and the real-life situation will thrill readers who like this type of adventure.

Verdict: Hand this one to fans of survival stories and those who like to imagine themselves stranded in the wilderness or who like to be prepared. At just over 100 pages, this is a a popular series for a variety of readers which is sure to fly off your shelves.

ISBN: 9780544970106; Published 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Purchased for the library

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