By Marcus Sedgwick
Published 2013 by Roaring Brook Press
Interconnected stories tell the tale of Blessed Island and two people who find themselves drawn there - and to each other.
I am kicking myself for not having this review up before the Youth Media Awards. As you probably know by now, this book took the top honor for YA fiction, winning the Printz Award. I am really wishing I wrote this review before that happened. Maybe this seems like a strange thing to wish, but I'm a bit worried that the award might color my view of the book a bit. I'm hoping not. Let's see.
Let me get one thing out of the way first and it's my biggest hesitation regarding this book. This is a very literary novel and, much like The Kingdom of Little Wounds, I found myself wondering what makes this a YA book. Ultimately, I suppose, we must rely on the word of the publisher, who I imagine relies on the author, to make those decisions. I had a really hard time with that when it came to The Kingdom of Little Wounds and less so with this book, perhaps because this book doesn't contain quite as much content as the former. However, there are very few typical elements of a YA novel present in this book. Throughout the seven interlinked stories, the characters are rarely teenaged. More often, they are adults or children. That doesn't mean it can't be a book for teens; it just makes it a little less likely in my opinion.
However, this is pretty much my only qualm with this book (and I really even hate to call it that because it makes it sound so negative). The book is, as expected, excellently written. This is, I believe, only my second Sedgwick novel, but I was so wonderfully surprised by the first that I had high expectations for this one. I wasn't disappointed. Sedgwick has such a way with words, I'm pretty sure he could make me interested in any kind of story. I loved that he chose to tell this story through a series of short stories instead of a straightforward narrative. I actually really enjoy short stories so this was an exciting choice. To me, it adds a great deal of depth to the story, allowing Sedgwick to include recurring elements in a way that feels natural. I think everything ties together extremely well in the end, and I absolutely loved the conclusion of this book.
I am completely unsurprised that this won the Printz award. It was one of my favorite books last year and I clearly need to read all of Sedgwick's backlist.