Blue Skin of the Sea

Blue Skin of the Sea

4.2 5
by Graham Salisbury
     
 

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Eleven interlinked stories tell the tale of a boy coming of age in Kailua-Kona, a Hawaiian fishing village. Sonny Mendoza is a little different from the rest of the men in his family. Salisbury explores characters like Aunty Pearl, a full-blooded Hawaiian as regal as the queens of old; cool Jack, from L.A., who starts a gang and dares Sonny to be brave enough,

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Overview

Eleven interlinked stories tell the tale of a boy coming of age in Kailua-Kona, a Hawaiian fishing village. Sonny Mendoza is a little different from the rest of the men in his family. Salisbury explores characters like Aunty Pearl, a full-blooded Hawaiian as regal as the queens of old; cool Jack, from L.A., who starts a gang and dares Sonny to be brave enough, cruel enough, to join; mysterious Melanie, who steals his heart; and Deeps, the shark hunter.

But the most memorable character is the sea itself: inviting, unpredictable, deadly. Mendoza men are brave men, but Sonny's courage is of a different kind. Why can't he love and trust the water as the men of his family are meant to do?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This first novel, which takes place on Hawaii between 1953 and 1966, strings together a collection of short stories to form a rare and exquisite narrative necklace. At its center sits Sonny Mendoza, descendant of Portuguese fishermen living in the tiny village of Kailua-Kona. As the book begins, he lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin Keo, since his widowed father is too busy to look after a young son. The unifying thread running through Sonny's youth is his inexplicable fear of the sea, which is finally resolved when he confronts a buried memory of near-drowning. Learning to swim, seeing death firsthand, exchanging a short-lived but passionate series of love letters, facing a bully--Sonny's adventures defy encapsulation without sounding diminished. The incidents together, however, create an extraordinary mood, distilling the most powerful and universal experiences of adolescence. Salisbury's focus and control in presenting events that punctuate young lives is reminiscent of Margaret Mahy, Cynthia Voigt and Jill Paton Walsh--but with a boyish twist that seems particularly timely given the popularity of current titles on masculinity. Salisbury draws on his own youth in the Hawaiian islands to locate these seminal moments in a landscape that, even as the action progresses, disappears in the face of encroaching resort development. While the exotic setting and rites of passage may remind readers of Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John , Salisbury writes in a less rarified style. His fluid, unobtrusive command of language never soars above the intended audience: ``She looked exactly like the old pictures of Hawaiian queens, tall and wide, draped in full-length muumuus, with huge bare feet tough as coconut husks.'' Salisbury's notable debut is sure to garner him many fans who will eagerly await forthcoming works. Ages 10-up. (June) .
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-- Sonny Mendoza and his fisherman father live in the village of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. In a series of short stories, Sonny's childhood, teen years, search for identity, and coming of age during the early '50s through mid-'60s are chronicled. Vignettes of life with vivid characters and universal themes such as friends and bravery are presented through scenes of sleepy village life, the fisherman's love affair with the sea, school days, and facing natural enemies such as sharks and hurricanes. From story to story, Sonny and his relatives--and, of course, the ocean--are common threads that tie the book together. Salisbury has a poetic way with language, and his descriptive passages make the ocean and seashore tangible, living things. Dialogue rings true, and the events in a boy's growing up are realistically portrayed. The sixth grade ``gang'' and its bully leader, Jack, as well as a teenage confrontation over a beautiful girl, are particularly well done. Humorous incidents provide insight into the characters. When his father's fishing boat fails to return to port, Sonny's fear of losing him is palpable. Salisbury has successfully created stories that stand alone, yet join together to build a world of people, places, and conflicts that will engage teen readers. --Gail Richmond, Point Loma High School, San Diego

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780440219057
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
05/28/1994
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
310,358
Product dimensions:
4.84(w) x 6.83(h) x 0.65(d)
Lexile:
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Graham Salisbury is the author of several novels, among them the award-winning Lord of the Deep, Blue Skin of the Sea, and Under the Blood-Red Sun.

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