Orphan Sophie has been drawn to the see since before she can remember. The sea, the sea, the sea.It rolled and rolled and called to me.Come in, it said, come in. When she sets sail with her adoptive family—two cousins, three uncles, and her the only girl on board a rebuilt sailboat—she is thrilled, thrilled and terrified. What truth awaits her across the sea?
Sharon Creech’s The Wanderer is a book I return to again and again. As a writer, I find the language to be soothing and rhythmic, poetic and touching. The story is told through ship logs both Sophie and her often underestimated cousin Cody keep throughout their voyage. They are honest and irreverent, telling their day-to-day experiences in tight quarters with people who don’t understand them. Together, they learn Morse code and chart reading and constellations and drawing. They tell stories—and discover that somehow, Sophie knows each one of them better than they do, particularly Bompie, the ailing grandfather they’re sailing to meet.
The Wanderer is a book of family mysteries, laid out over the many weeks it takes the patchwork crew to toil through the seas from the United States to England. They struggle through battles, both of the pitching sea and between themselves. Will they survive, or will they sink?