Girl. Boy. Sea.

Chris Vick

Girl. Boy. Sea.
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Girl. Boy. Sea.

Chris Vick

Storm, shipwreck, survival. With echoes of Life of Pi and an upbeat twist on Lord of the Flies, Chris Vick’s novel delves deep into the might and majesty of the unpredictable ocean, the strength of an unlikely friendship between a British boy and a Berber girl and their will to survive against all the odds.   

A young British boy called Bill narrowly survives the sinking of his yacht in a huge storm off the coast of Morocco. After many days alone at sea in a small boat he rescues another survivor, clinging for her life to a barrel. She is a girl called Aya, from the nomadic Berber tribe, whose migrant ship was destroyed by the same storm.

Through endless days, a mere speck on the vast, empty sea - hungry, sunburned, and with no idea what will happen next - Aya recounts the tales of Shahrazad of the  Arabian Nights, who told 1000 stories to quell the murderous desire of the Persian King. As hope of rescue begins to fade, from Aya’s tales of magic, brave heroes, wily thieves, greedy kings and cruel sultans, they find the strength they need to stay alive.   

When they land on a desert island they’re confronted by a strange young man who is not what he seems… and back out on the waves once more in the dark deep, a shadow follows and waits…

Review

Girl. Boy. Sea. is a story about a young boy’s perilous journey of survival, cast adrift on the vast Atlantic Ocean with meagre food and water to live on. The story opens with a small crew of teenage boys and their captain as they set sail in training for a Youth Sail Challenge. But tragedy strikes suddenly when a wild and powerful squall forces all of the crew to abandon ship and take refuge on a life raft. All except one.

Fifteen-year-old Bill is left stranded on the sinking yacht. With mere minutes to spare, Bill acts on adrenaline and gathers together some essentials, tosses them into a small wooden tender and casts off alone onto a raging, tempestuous ocean that seems intent on swallowing him whole. Surviving the storm is merely the first challenge, for hunger, thirst and exposure bring torments of their own. As a reader, one may wonder whether magic, delirium brought on by exhaustion and extreme hardship, or fate is responsible for what happens next, but when Bill finds Aya clinging to a buoy, smelling of near death, his own survival story gets even more complicated.

This is a remarkable story about the stoicism of the human spirit and its tenacious capacity to survive, especially when there is someone else to fight for. Ultimately, this is a story about Bill and Aya, their fated meeting, and the remarkable power of storytelling to bridge connections between the most unlikely of companions.


Natalie Platten is the assistant manager and children’s book buyer at Readings Doncaster.

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