The Great Wide Sea

The Great Wide Sea

4.2 60
by M. H. Herlong

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Still mourning the death of their mother, three brothers go with their father on an extended sailing trip off the Florida Keys and have a harrowing adventure at sea.  See more details below


Still mourning the death of their mother, three brothers go with their father on an extended sailing trip off the Florida Keys and have a harrowing adventure at sea.

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)

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Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
11 - 15 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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