Book Review: “The Wanderer” by Sharon Creech

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The Wanderer
by Sharon Creech

This Newbery Honor Book shares a lot of the themes of the author’’s Walk Two Moons: a journey in which tales are told, in which different generations of a family are bound together, and in which a strong-minded girl learns to face up to the grief she has been hiding from herself.

In this case, the journey takes place on a forty-two-foot sailboat bound from Connecticut to England. The girl is named Sophie, and the family she is traveling with includes three Uncles (Dock, Stew, and Mo) and two cousins (Cody and Brian). Undaunted by the prospect of spending weeks in close quarters with a bunch of guys, Sophie takes to the sea like, well, a fish to water. But in this story, told through the log entries of both Cody and Sophie, you gradually learn that Sophie’’s enthusiasm for the sea is partly a cover for a deep dread of it.

Sophie herself is a mystery, particularly to her never-serious cousin Cody and their always-serious cousin Brian. No one can explain why she is so eager to see her grandfather, Bompie, in England. She talks as though she knows him well, but to the best of anyone’’s knowledge she has never met him. And no one will explain to the boys what happened to Sophie’’s real parents…

Well, I’’d better not give away too much. The relationships between these clashing personalities make for enough excitement on a forty-two-foot boat, even as they learn about themselves and each other along the way. And a great storm at sea provides a lot more excitement. And the resolution of many family and personal conflicts hangs in balance during this difficult voyage. But the real crisis of the story has to do with: what’’s up with Sophie?