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The Great Wide Sea

The Great Wide Sea

4.2 60
by M.H. Herlong

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Ben, Dylan, and Gerry are still mourning their mother's death when their dad decides to buy a boat and take them on a year-long sailing trip. Tensions flare between Ben and his father, but they gradually learn to live together in close quarters. Then one morning the boys wake up to discover their father has disappeared-and they are lost. What happened to him? Where


Ben, Dylan, and Gerry are still mourning their mother's death when their dad decides to buy a boat and take them on a year-long sailing trip. Tensions flare between Ben and his father, but they gradually learn to live together in close quarters. Then one morning the boys wake up to discover their father has disappeared-and they are lost. What happened to him? Where are they? And what will they do when a terrible storm looms on the horizon?

Editorial Reviews

Herlong's first book is a great survival story and a fine portrayal of family relationships in a time of crisis. . . . This page-turner of an adventure story is also a convincing, compelling, and ultimately moving novel. Starred review
KLIATT - Aimee Cole
Three boys and their father set out on a sailboat for a year-long cruise, attempting to outrun the pain and grief caused by the death of their mother and wife. The eldest brother, Ben, would prefer sticking to day sails on the lake and is angry at his father's decision to change their lives even more drastically. Dylan and Gerry must grow up fast as each is an integral member of the crew. Dealing with the risk of oncoming storms for himself and his sons, as well as facing emotional pain from memories, their father becomes even more distant than before. Obstacles in their lives are overcome, however, as difficult passages of the sea are crossed successfully. Memories of their mother surface among the brothers to comfort them. They manage to save their father from sharks, but soon, however, a storm washes their father away and leaves the sons shipwrecked on an isolated island. Banding together as always, the boys work to survive. Ben takes on the role of a leader as well as a parent to his brothers and comes to understand the pressures of these roles as well as some of his father's character traits. Readers will be drawn into this adventure tale full of peril, with the undercurrent of a family grieving. Reviewer: Aimee Cole
Children's Literature - Monserrat Urena
Ben had a good life. He had loving parents. He and his younger brothers lived in a nice house near a lake. Then, their mother dies in a car crash, and their father, a college professor, cannot cope with the loss. Distracted and in pain, Ben's father rarely thinks about what his sons are going through, and Ben must step in to take care of his younger siblings even though he is not yet sixteen. Their father's behavior worsens over time. It all comes to a head when he suddenly announces that he has sold the family home. He has decided that they are going to sail throughout the Bahamas. The trip is a pressure cooker of events. The father's emotional instability comes to the forefront, yet the family retains elements of tenderness and, on occasion, happiness. The great climax of the book comes when the boys are stranded on a deserted island without their father. This is the author's first book and is an admirable piece of fiction. Unfortunately, the literary techniques used in crafting the story are all too visible. The story feels rushed in its attempt to reach some inevitable goal. I am still wondering what it is? The ending is surprising in its apparent ease after so turbulent a plot. The hero has a magical memory that suddenly appears in his mind, and it quickly makes any and all previous tensions null and void. I cannot recommend this work, but I cannot disregard the potential that this writer holds. Reviewer: Monserrat Urena
School Library Journal

Gr 7-10

Ben Byron, 15, is angry. Just two months after the death of his mother in a car accident, his dad, crushed by the loss of his wife, sells their house and small boat and uses the money to buy the Chrysalis , a 30-foot sailboat. He uproots Ben and two younger sons for a yearlong tour of the Bahamas. Life goes as smoothly as it can for a while, despite the tension, chores, and close quarters. But one morning everything changes-their father disappears. When the boat heads into a terrible storm, Ben must act. Throughout the novel, the protagonist's emotions ring true. Although the sailing details are a bit technical at times, Herlong spins an engrossing, suspenseful tale of survival.-Melyssa Malinowski, Kenwood High School, Baltimore, MD

Kirkus Reviews

Following the death of his wife, a father takes his three sons on a yearlong sailing trip. Told in 15-year-old Ben's voice, the story follows the family as they island-hop through the Bahamas. Anger is Ben's method of coping with his mother's death and his father's irrational behavior. Eleven-year-old Dylan disconnects, retreating into his intellect, while five-year-old Gerry becomes increasingly fearful. After a violent storm, the boys awaken to find the boat has been pushed off-course and their father is missing. Left alone, they must band together for survival. Herlong displays a vast knowledge of sailing and of island life, offering a strong sense of setting. The repetitiveness of the characters' reactions to their situation and each other will make readers impatient, however. A fast-moving plot and life-or-death situations will keep readers interested, but uneven characters and a lack of connection with their plight will ultimately leave them empty. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

M. H. Herlong lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. The author's four sons inspired this debut novel.

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The Great Wide Sea 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
Bookworm8765MC More than 1 year ago
This book was fantastic. full of thrilling storms, Heart break and family. This book kept me up all night reading! i just couldnt put it down. this book was a fantastic read and i would recommend anybody to read this book...Whether or not they were 12 or 90. it was a great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how these kids go through tough times with their father. Read it on my nook and could not put it down! Read this book and rate it stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nikki Busalacchi More than 1 year ago
I read this from tne real book but then came back to read it on my Nook. Its really a page-turner. Love it!
sharmond tanner More than 1 year ago
This book was great and should be made into a movie.
Will Todd More than 1 year ago
best book ever!!!!!!!!!
Taylor Gorski More than 1 year ago
this book was amazing i would definutly recomend it to anyone it could never put this book down it was truly amzing
Brianna Kehoe More than 1 year ago
this book was amazing!!!!
alex del dago More than 1 year ago
Thiss book is a page-turner! The way the author uses details is AMAZING!!! This book is MUST-READ!!!!!!!
Cristina Ocanas More than 1 year ago
this book is so intresting it shows courage and valenty...in a few words its just incredible
lyndsaykaye More than 1 year ago
The Great Wide Sea was a great book to read. I thought the way that the story was told through the eyes of the older brother Ben was excellent. This book dealt with issues that young children face everyday. It is a story of how to grieve and how to survive when life throws you curve balls. Ben and his brothers are put to the ultimate test when they have to deal with the death of their mother and then when their dad decides to uproot them and take them on a boat and turns up missing. Seeing how the boys come together to deal with the hand that life has dealt them is amazing. It would motivate any person no matter what age to pick themselves up and live life no matter what the circumstances. It was a great book! I loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for school, and I felt like it was going to be a pretty good book. For the first few chapters they go to a new island, then the Dad gets tired of that island and they have to leave. Then they go to another island. It's kind of repetitive. Also (I won't spoil the book for you) something happens to the brothers at the end of the book and everything falls apart. It's pretty depressing. Maybe I just thought that because I don't like sad books, I don't know. If you think you'll like it then read it, but it's not my first pick.
marcus debaise More than 1 year ago
I read the sample ready to buy it but somethinng didnt click does anybody think i should buy this book?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is like a diamond in rough. I was enthralled by the character development and story. The relationship between these brothers is very tender and believable. The survival element is also fantastic. Absolutely terrific read...couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Written with thoughtful insight into the relationships between these three brothers, their father and their lost mother. This is also an exciting story of sailing and survival with lots of plot twists along the way. Just an all around great read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
An awe inspiring emotional roller coaster. I am moved at every turn. M.H. Herlong is going to be a legend.
MelanieNealeMN More than 1 year ago
SPOILER ALERT--I loved this book. I'd rank it up there with some of the great YA books of survival and adventure, like The Island of the Blue Dolphins, that I loved as a kid. And as an adult and a parent, I appreciated it even more than I would have then. There were a few places where I questioned the credibility of some of the details (taking an illegal speargun to the Bahamas, the fact that the dad didn't look harder for his kids, the geographical likelihood that they would have been found, etc.), but I can overlook all of these details because it was such a good story about strength, coming of age, family and love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
M.H. Herlong wrote The Great Wide Sea, which sounded like a phenomenal book. The novel was well-written, but was boring in some parts. Much of the book was written in a way that would keep a reader on the edge of their seat.  Overall,  Herlong wrote a very well rounded book with a relatable message.      Ben, Gerry, Dylan, and their father have set out on a sailing trip-- a permanent sailing trip. Jim, the father, loses his wife to a car accident and decides to sell everything and live on the water. The children are devastated, but they don't realize what horrors the water will bring. Ben wakes up to find his father gone, a horrible storm hits, and their boat crashes.  Life doesn't sound so bad for the kids who are parent-less on an island left to do whatever they want.  That isn't true. Dylan comes face to face with a "death sentence" and Ben has to decide what to do to save his younger brother's life.  The way Herlong writes makes the reader connect with the characters and understand their lives better.  She also writes the novel in a humorous manner that keeps the reader reading, as this dialogue illustrates:      “What’s up?” I said.       “Nothing.”       “I mean what’s wrong?”      “My leg is broken.”      “Yeah, I noticed.” The excerpt is humorous because it states the obvious.  Ben obviously knows that Dylan has a broken leg, but he asks what is wrong with Dylan anyway.  The book has many sad parts as well, mostly referring to the children's mother.         “Gerry breathed loudly and slowly. “Dylan,” he said accusingly, “that was a sad story.”       “Not it’s not. It’s a happy story. It’s about a mom who loved her baby very much.”       “But she’s gone,” Gerry said in a very little voice.       “That doesn't mean she loves you any less,” Dylan said.”  Ben and his father are in conflict throughout most of the book.  When their father disappears, Ben thinks he committed suicide because he lost his wife.  The conflicts are all external, some are character versus character and some are character versus nature.  When a horrible storm hits, the boys know that they are in a lot of trouble.  After crashing on the island, Ben and Dylan realize that they don't have enough food to last.  The boys struggle with nature just to find food and safety from shelter.  The novel The Great Wide Sea is overall a very enjoyable book.  Although some parts of the book were boring, the book would be age appropriate for anyone in the seventh grade or older.  Some parts in the plot could have been written in a more descriptive manner, but the book was very interesting. M.H. Herlong wrote The Great Wide Sea in a manner in which the reader could relate to what was happening.  Anyone can lose their mother and anyone could live in a boat on the water. The fact that the plot and message is relatable made the book that much better. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To the person that wanted to know if you should buy it i think u should bc it is really good trust me i am reading it right now so yes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone! I really enjoyed it and some parts are really touching. This book has the potential to become a classic, all it needs is a bit more attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this in 7th grade with Mrs.Brandt it was sad but really good!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I havent finished it yet but its realy good so far! Check it out! :)