Big Water

181p. Orca. Mar. 2018. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781459815728.
Gr 9 Up—After her brother's tragic death from tuberculosis, 17-year-old Christine McBurney runs away from her Parkdale home. Unwilling to be forced into working as a nursemaid or teacher, Christine takes matters into her own hands when she boards a ship in Owen Sound. While heading to Sault Ste. Marie on the steamship Asia, a terrible storm causes the boat to sink in Georgian Bay. She and a young man named Daniel are the only survivors and must endure on the open water and await rescue or find land. The story is set in 1882, and Curtis provides readers rich details of life in Victorian-era Canada. The characters shed the social norms and strict manners of their time to survive against impossible odds. Christine faces the devastating loss of her brother and Daniel comes to terms with his troubled past. Acclaimed for her creative nonfiction Into the Blue, Curtis mines the storied nautical history of Georgian Bay for this setting. This novel adeptly combines historical fiction with a heavy dose of adventure and even some romance.
VERDICT A must-buy for where Victorian-era historical fiction or survivor tales are popular.

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