|Strong like the sea|
Author: Swore, Wendy S.
Alexis, a 12-year-old native Hawaiian, is terrified of the ocean and its creatures because of an encounter she had early in her life with a moray eel. Her mother, a contractor for the Navy, likes to give Alexis elaborate puzzles to solve when she's away on assignments. One puzzle gets her working for her grumpy neighbor, Uncle Tanaka, helping him gather marine samples. She has to use her problem-solving skills, Uncle's help and overcome her fear of the ocean when her mom is suddenly in distress.
Kirkus Reviews (05/01/21)
School Library Journal (05/14/21)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 05/01/2021 Swore packs this story about a curious, competitive girl full of moving themes and vivid imagery, and they fit together as neatly as a puzzle box. Alex, 12, lives in Laie on the island of Oahu. Her father teaches high-school math and is a scuba diving instructor, and her mother is a civilian intelligence contractor for the navy and spends a great deal of her time working on a submarine. In her absence, she leaves Alex elaborate puzzles to solve, often recruiting family and friends to hide ciphers and clues (many of which are included in the text). The challenging puzzles range all over Laie, although retrieving some of the clues requires her to struggle with her deep fear of the ocean. When her mother’s sub goes silent, Alex’s resiliency, strong-mindedness, and intelligence carry her through her worries. Though references to Hawaiian culture and dialects occasionally feel shoehorned in, Swore’s descriptions of Alex’s anxieties and drive to solve her mother’s puzzles ring true, and elements of mystery, ecology, and personal growth give this tightly constructed novel plenty of appeal. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 05/14/2021 Gr 4–6—Alexis lives in Hawaii with her mother, who is often gone working as a contractor for the navy and cannot always divulge her location to her daughter. In her absence, Alexis's mom leaves cryptic and exciting puzzles for her to solve, as a special activity at the end. But when something happens and her mom might be in danger, Alexis must solve an impossible puzzle and overcome her deep fear of the very thing surrounding her home—the sea. This exciting story features lush descriptions of Hawaii. Short chapters move the plot along at a reasonable pace for younger readers while still giving enough drama and detail for more seasoned fans of realistic fiction. The book also features a hidden code for readers to solve on their own, reminiscent of the ciphers Alexis decodes in the novel. Alexis is cued as white. VERDICT With an intriguing mystery and themes of family (both found and blood) at its heart, this is a good purchase for libraries where juvenile adventure stories and Swore's other works are popular.—Molly Dettmann, Norman North H.S., OK - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.