Strong Like the Sea

Shadow Mountain. May 2021. 304p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781629729022.
Gr 4-6–Alexis lives in Hawaii with her mother, who is often gone working as a contractor for the navy and cannot always divulge her location to her daughter. In her absence, Alexis’s mom leaves cryptic and exciting puzzles for her to solve, as a special activity at the end. But when something happens and her mom might be in danger, Alexis must solve an impossible puzzle and overcome her deep fear of the very thing surrounding her home—the sea. This exciting story features lush descriptions of Hawaii. Short chapters move the plot along at a reasonable pace for younger readers while still giving enough drama and detail for more seasoned fans of realistic fiction. The book also features a hidden code for readers to solve on their own, reminiscent of the ciphers Alexis decodes in the novel. Alexis is cued as white.
VERDICT With an intriguing mystery and themes of family (both found and blood) at its heart, this is a good purchase for libraries where juvenile adventure stories and Swore’s other works are popular.

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