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Posted February 18, 2011
The Fires Beneath the Sea is an engrossing novel by Lydia Millet. The book is an intelligent mix of mythical and reality. It tells the story of three siblings who are dealing with the aftermath of their mothers disappearance. The story focuses on the two younger siblings, 13 year old Cara and 10 year old Jax, but 16 year old Max is also included in the story. The setting of the story is on the cape, with all of the kids being interested in the water or wilderness in some respect. Jax, the youngest, is adopted and is a known genius that has trouble hanging out with kids his own age. Cara is more quiet and believes that she is ordinary next to smart Jax and her athletic brother. Max struggles with normal teenage problems, but tries to keep it together for the family, and he alone can see the impact their mother's disappearance has on their father.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
The story begins with the kids surviving a difficult summer after their mother disappears. The police were called in, but it was assumed that her mother had run away to be with another man, but both the kids and their father know that it is not so. The situation remains a mystery until Cara swims into the ocean and comes face to face with a sea otter who somehow communicates a message to her about keeping her family safe. Shaken, she tells what happens to Jax and they soon become embroiled in an age old battle. Max becomes involved when he realizes that something is going on with the younger two. He strives to keep everyone safe while attempting not to feel too disbelieving about the whole situation.
The story is not just a floppy kid story with no real substance, but focused on important concepts such as global warming and the all to real aspect of parents getting separated or divorced. It has well-rounded, real feeling characters that are sympathetic, kids that are not fully understanding of what is going on, and are struggling to figure out this new world that they live in. The slow growth of the characters, especially Cara, the narrator is evident in the way that they slowly begin to understand that their father has been suffering along with them. The way that the siblings bond together, especially when Max joins the story, is particularly endearing. The story moves along at a quick pace, and is something that kids will want to dig into. Overall this book is very well put together and has important issues that are embedded in the story but do not detract from the overall story line. I am interested in reading the next installment of the series!