Synopses & Reviews
An enchanting historical fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Thanhha Lai's Newbery Honor-winning Inside Out and Back Again.
No one comes to the Second World on purpose. The doorway between worlds opens only when least expected. The Raft King is desperate to change that by finding the doorway that will finally take him and the people of Raftworld back home. To do it, he needs Pip, a young boy with an incredible gift he can speak to fish; and the Raft King is not above kidnapping to get what he wants. Pip's sister Kinchen, though, is determined to rescue her brother and foil the Raft King's plans.
This is but the first of three extraordinary stories that collide on the high seas of the Second World. The second story takes us back to the beginning: Venus and Swimmer are twins captured aboard a slave ship bound for Jamaica in 1781. They save themselves and others from a life of enslavement with a risky, magical plan one that leads them from the shark-infested waters of the first world to the second. Pip and Kinchen will hear all about them before their own story is said and done. So will Thanh and his sister Sang, who we meet in 1978 on a small boat as they try to escape post-war Vietnam. But after a storm and a pirate attack, they're not sure they'll ever see shore again. What brings these three sets of siblings together on an adventure of a lifetime is a little magic, helpful sea monsters and that very special portal, A Crack in the Sea.
"Bouwman ably weaves these threads together into a curious, haunting whole that references oppression, family, magic, and a human desperation for safety that transcends time and place.... Detailed black and white illustrations invite contemplation and work well to highlight key moments in the novel, adding artistic flair to the already lyrical story." BCCB
"A Crack in the Sea is a moving work of conscience and a numinously magical journey. Trust this book." William Alexander, National Book Award–winning author of Goblin Secrets
"Fans of Grace Lin will love this wholly original book that reads like a fairy tale. A moving and thought-provoking choice for library collections." School Library Journal
"This novel touches on sensitive and tragic moments in history and gives them fantastical remediation for a provocative, immersive read." Kirkus Reviews
"Through the captivating interwoven tales of these three sibling pairs — and with assistance from Shimizu’s powerful ink illustrations — Bouwman crafts a moving narrative about family, magic, morality, the power of storytelling, and the cyclical nature of history." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
About the Author
H.M. Bouwman is the author of The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap, a middle-grade children’s novel (Marshall Cavendish, 2008) and A Crack in the Sea, (Putnam/Penguin Random House, 2017). An associate professor of English at the University of St. Thomas, she lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her two sons.