Nine orphans live on an island. Every year a boat arrives with a new young child, and the eldest child departs the island, saying goodbye forever. They have rules that they follow. They have to learn to swim and read; they have daily chores to do. If they follow the rules, then everything is perfect and the sky won’t fall in on them. As Jinny says goodbye to Deen, it becomes her turn to be Eldest, to lead the others and do what is right. She has a year’s time to teach her new Care, Ess, everything she needs to know to survive on the island, then it will be Jinny’s turn to get in the boat. This story is a metaphor for growing up and letting go of childhood, the difficulties and struggles of new responsibilities and the fear of facing the unknown.
This middle grade fiction coming of age novel includes elements of magical realism. For children ages 8-12 years, although many adults will enjoy this as well.