The Ocean Within

Caldwell, V. M.; Magnus, Erica

Published by Milkweed Editions
ISBN 10: 157131623X / ISBN 13: 9781571316233
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Synopsis: Many children at some point wonder whether they are adopted. In The Ocean Within, Elizabeth knows she is adopted and feels she cannot trust the welcome offered by her new family, the Sheridans. As she and her new siblings and cousins head to the beach for a vacation at Grandma's house, Elizabeth is secretly thrilled at the chance to finally see the ocean. On the other hand, she feels the Sheridans are just too much - too prone to hugging, too loud, too enthusiastic. And there are so many of them!

Beautifully re-creating the dynamics of a large family and revealing the heart of a young girl, The Ocean Within tracks the storm brewing within the usually sunny Sheridan summer home, as Elizabeth and the matriarch she calls the "Iron Woman" test wills - one resisting with all her strength the love and structure offered by the other.

From Publishers Weekly: Caldwell's first novel, told from the perspective of 11-year-old Elizabeth Lawson, offers an insightful yet somewhat limited view of a reticent foster child. Recently adopted, Elizabeth is overwhelmed when she, her three new siblings and a mass of Sheridan cousins gather for an annual month-long visit at Grandmother Sheridan's house by the sea. Elizabeth feels like an outsider and, though quietly cooperative during the reunion, she refuses to participate in family rituals and games. Her favorite times are spent by herself at the ocean, perched on a rock while the others swim and play on the beach. Most of the Sheridans are frustrated by Elizabeth's seeming indifference, but perceptive, firm Grandmother (whom Elizabeth secretly calls "Iron Woman") and youngest cousin Petey never give up trying to draw her out of her shell. At first, readers may, like Elizabeth, find it difficult to differentiate individual personalities from among the crowd of happy, bubbly Sheridan children; but as the story progresses, the characters' distinguishing traits become visible. Still, the occasionally overwritten narrative (e.g., when Elizabeth offers to help Petey with his homework, "Hope warred against disbelief in his eyes. Hope won, and he nodded") leaves many questions unanswered concerning the protagonist herself. Little information is given about her past, nor is much evidence offered as to why her new parents are so eager to adopt her. Yet her discomfort and yearning to belong somewhere will be strongly felt. If Elizabeth's motivations and history are muddy, her emotions are crystal clear. Ages 8-13. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Title: The Ocean Within
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: As New

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