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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Review & Giveaway: Cast Off by Eve Yohalem

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Title: Cast Off
Author: Eve Yohalem
Publisher: Dial Books
Pub. Date: May 19, 2015
Genre: Middle Grade
Rec. Age Level: 10+
Pages: 320
More by this author: Escape Under the Forever Sky

A tale of pirates, mutiny, and friendship on the high seas, perfect for fans of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

It's 1663 and there is an extra passenger on board a Dutch merchant ship setting sail for the East Indies. Twelve-year-old Petra has stowed away to escape her abusive father. But she quickly realizes that surviving for months at sea will be impossible without help. So when Bram, the half-Dutch / Half-Javanese son of the ship's carpenter, finds her hiding spot, Petra convinces him to help her stay hidden . . .and help disguise her as a boy.

If Petra is discovered and exposed as a girl, she could be tossed overboard, or worse . . . returned to her father. And if Bram is exposed for helping her, he could lose the only home and family he has. As tensions rise on the ship, with pirates attacking, deadly illness, and even mutiny, Petra and Bram face impossible decisions that test their friendship and threaten their dreams of freedom.
It was the comparison to The True Confession of Charlotte Doyle that drew me to this new novel by Eve Yohalem, and I'm happy to report that the comparison was apt. Charlotte Doyle's adventures sparked my lifelong love of books set at sea... and stories featuring fearless, headstrong girls aboard ships. I'm thrilled that today's young readers will find similar inspiration in Petra, one of Cast Off's main characters.

Yohalem's Cast Off alternates perspectives, switching from that of Petra, a stowaway escaping an abusive home, to that of Bram, a boy with mixed parentage that severely limits his prospects. The two form a fast friendship after Bram helps hide Petra aboard the ship, then keeps her secret when she joins the crew disguised as a boy.

I enjoyed Petra from the start and Bram quickly grew on me as well. Perhaps because of her difficult upbringing, Petra is extremely resourceful, hardworking, and quick to action. She was a wonderful character from which to view the ship and its crew because, initially, all is completely foreign to her, but her curiosity and intelligence provide ample opportunity to learn and explore. Bram offers an important, but very different perspective, as he is quite familiar with the ship, its crew, and the various cultures and events the two experience during their journey.

I can't say for sure how accurate all of the historical details are regarding life on ships in 1663, but I can say that Yohalem's descriptions felt genuine. One event in particular, the description of a character being keelhauled was especially terrifying. Upon further investigation, I discovered that punishment by keelhauling was indeed a regular practice! In fact, the description of the punishment in the book and the resulting wounds are very accurate (and shudder-inducing).

I highly recommend this fantastic piece of historical fiction for readers of all ages! 


Win It!
 1 winner. Open to US addresses only. Ends 6/23/15.

Follow the blog tour:

Mon, June 1
Book Monsters
Tues, June 2
The Hiding Spot
Wed, June 3
Books Unbound
Thurs, June 4
Unleashing Readers
Fri, June 5
Read Now, Sleep Later
Mon, June 8
Mother Daughter Book Club
Tues, June 9
Cracking the Cover
Wed, June 10
The Compulsive Reader
Thurs, June 11
The Children's Book Review
Fri, June 12
I Read Banned Books


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