Author: Doleski, Shannon
Gaining courage from Joan of Arc, fourteen-year-old Mary Murphy navigates the waters of Chesapeake Bay in a submersible built with her friend, Kip, escaping the home where her violent father has just returned from prison. Includes facts about domestic violence and submersibles.
Kirkus Reviews (01/01/20)
School Library Journal (03/13/20)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/05/20)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/15/2019 With her dad out of prison, Mary Murphy, 14, knows it’s only a matter of time before he violently lashes out at her again. It feels safer to stay away from home, so she spends her time alone on a cliff, trying to channel the courage of her heroine, Joan of Arc. Her performance in school also takes a beating, as she’s unable to focus and is emotionally underwater. Her science grade can only be saved by acing her STEM project with her partner, Kip, the class clown. Together, they construct a working model submersible, inspiring Mary to build a real sub (with help from a retired Navy seaman) that she can maneuver underwater and across the bay. Set in an island fishing village where poverty and affluence coexist, Doleski’s debut features a protagonist who morphs from reticence to courage to overcome adversity as she learns the importance of both self-reliance and accepting support from friends. Using incidents from her husband’s experiences as a social worker, Doleski offers a realistic, engaging portrayal of adolescents dealing with parental violence. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 03/13/2020 Gr 5 Up—This debut novel follows a young girl who decides to build a real submarine. During the day, Mary attends Our Lady Star of the Sea, where she idolizes Joan of Arc, struggles with her relationship with her best friend, and starts getting increased attention from one of her male classmates, Kip Dwyer. Mary also has to face an alcoholic and increasingly violent father, just home from prison. One day Mary decides to build a submarine with the help of Kip and an older neighbor, a scientist. As Mary distracts herself with building, her long-lost aunt and wife re-enter her life and suddenly it seems that things might change. However, everything comes to a head one day and the submarine's fate is threatened. Mary is left asking herself "What would Joan do?" Unfortunately this book aims too high, with multiple undeveloped plots vying for attention. There are pages of Joan of Arc's story interspersed in the book, which only adds more to the book's choppy nature. Additionally, while the main character comes off as young and naive, as the story progresses, her relationship with Kip and her father's violence pushes up against the line of what is appropriate for a middle grade audience. VERDICT While a promising premise, the execution is a miss. Sadly, the author has tried to cram too many plots into one story. Not recommended for purchase.—Elizabeth Portillo, Finkelstein Memorial Library, Spring Valley, NY - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.