The Wanderer by Sharon Creech

Sophie can't wait to get started on the journey. She is sailing all the way to England with her cousins Cody and Brian, and her uncles Dock, Mo, and Stew; sailing to see her Grandpa Bompie. It's a new adventure for her, as she's never met these cousins and uncles before. We learn that Sophie was recently adopted...and that creates some friction during the journey.

As the only girl aboard the boat, she struggles to prove that she's worthy of more than just cooking and cleaning. As they get to know each other, it becomes more apparent that Sophie knows her way around a boat better than some of the adults even! Every day she writes in her journal about what has been happening.

The boat they are sailing is Uncle Dock's baby, the Wanderer, a 45-ft. sailboat that has seen better days. But they band together to whip it into shape, and while it may not be the most beautiful vessel, it is certainly sea worthy. To pass the time, they all decide to teach something they know. Many choose to teach something that will help them on the boat, but Cody decides to teach everyone how to juggle.

Cody tells his side of the story in his "Dog Log". He tells about the dynamics of everyone on the boat, and about Sophie's contribution: telling Bompie's stories. Their cousin Brian is baffled by this, and everyone is a little uneasy, as Sophie has never met how does she know his stories? But Sophie insists that Bompie told them to her, and sidesteps any mention of her being an orphan.

As they start their serious leg of the journey all the way across the ocean, tensions begin to run higher. Being all cramped together, never getting completely dry, having to hold onto their plates while they puts everyone on edge. Cody and his father Mo fight, Mo and Stew fight, Dock pines away for his lost love Rosalie, and then there is the storm. Will they make it to Bompie? Can they survive one more night together? Is Sophie a liar and a fake?

Creech weaves a powerful tale about family, and being yourself in this Newberry Honor book. I can't begin to touch on all the nuances and special moments, but this a powerful coming of age book. I must admit it said some things I needed to hear at age 29, so I recommend it for children, teens, AND adults.

"The sea, the sea, the sea. It rolled and rolled and called to me. Come in, it said, come in. And in I went, floating, rolling, splashing, swimming, and the sea called, Come out, come out, and further I went but always it swept me back to shore," (Creech pg. 1, 2000).

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Creech, Sharon. (2001). The Wanderer. New York: Macmillan Children's Books.

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