Into the Storm
Beyond the Western Sea: Book 2 of 2
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What’s this book about?
Maura and Patrick have escaped the desperate poverty and danger of leaving home in Ireland to face even greater peril as they continue their daring voyage to the New World with their friend Laurence Kirkle. Aboard ship, they are crowded into the stench-filled pit of steerage, where they come face to face with illness and death, trying their best comfort and protect eight-year-old Bridy, who has lost both her parents. They find themselves at the mercy of fellow passengers—shady characters like Mr. Shagwell, an American in dire need of cash, and the conniving Mr. Clemspool, who sails first-class with young Mr. Grout, haunted by his criminal past. Ahead lies their future in America, fraught with danger and more crisis than they ever anticipated.
Story Behind the Story
I had been visiting schools that year, importantly, long before the lengthy Harry Potter books were so popular. I had begun asking students what they were reading. A surprising number of them were telling me they were reading novels by Stephen King. The surprise— (to me and to their teachers)—was that these kids were reading truly long books. Moreover, they were reading them very much on their own. The lesson? If they liked the stories, kids would read long books.
Having already published books that had become popular—for instance, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle—I had become used to the question, “Are you going to do a sequel?” Other books of mine had elicited that same question.
Awards and Recognition
- Best books for Young Adults, ALA, 1997
- Notable, National Council of Social Studies/Children’s Book Council, 1997
- Starred Review, Booklist, 1996
- Best Books of the Year, Booklinks, 1996
- Best Books of the Year, Book List, 1996
- New York Public Library, Best Books of the Year, 1996
- Blue Ribbon, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 1997
- Children’s choice nominee, Vermont
“[A] … pulsing 1850s emigrant adventure… . packed with action and with a huge cast of villains and heroes… . Great for reading aloud, the vivid scenes and larger-than-life characters also lend themselves to readers’ theater. The comedy is both grotesque and sinister. As in Dickens’ works, coincidence is not just a plot surprise but a revelation that those who appear to be far apart—the powerful and the ‘failures’—are, in fact, intimately connected.” (Booklist, starred review)