In the Second World, Kinchen and her brother, Pip, live with their adopted grandfather, Old Ren, on the islands. Pip has the gift of talking to fish, but he cannot recognize faces and has trouble in social situations, so Kinchen is constantly shielding him. The Raft King, leader of the traveling nation of Raftworld, needs Pip’s talents to help with a mysterious plan. He tricks Kinchen and takes Pip to sea, leaving behind a Raftworld girl named Caesar. While Kinchen and Caesar make a plan to follow Raftworld and retrieve Pip, Pip finds he enjoys his new independence and the opportunity for adventure. Meanwhile, in the First World, a small group—including young Thanh and his sister, Sang—make the risky decision to escape war-torn South Vietnam in a small boat. And two centuries in the past, a pair of twins named Venus and Swimmer lead their people from danger to safety using their watery gifts.
H.M. Bouwman’s second novel is a magical journey through three tales of separation and reunion, family and friendship. Bouncing between the three main stories, A Crack in the Sea maintains momentum thanks to a consistent narrative voice and beautiful ink illustrations by Yuko Shimizu. With a whimsical but sage narrator, vulnerable but courageous characters and a remarkable conclusion, A Crack in the Sea is constantly engaging and enlightening. The extremely serious story at the heart of the novel, along with its sophisticated world-building, make this the rare middle grade book that could also appeal to higher age groups, including teens.