Synopses & Reviews
"Neale's (The Cutlass and the Lash) first children's novel offers readers a white-knuckle read. Twelve-year-old Jack and 11-year-old Orrie, who alternate as narrators, can't trust their divorced mom to make sound decisions because of her long history of mental breakdowns. When she and her boyfriend, Skip, announce that Jack, Orrie and their seven-year-old brother will be sailing with them from the Canary Islands to Antigua in Skip's small craft, the news thrills Jack, who has decided Skip is 'all right,' but distresses Orrie. A diehard sailor ('I don't like engines. I like a sail. A man, the sea, and the wind'), Skip pours a can of Spaghetti-Os into the fuel tank to render the engine inoperable just before a storm strikes and sweeps him out to sea. Their mother almost immediately sinks into a catatonic state, leaving Jack and Orrie to take turns at the helm, battling fatigue and wrestling the wheel to keep the craft on course during another fierce storm. They also can't ask for help, thinking that if adults discover their mother's condition, she'll lose custody of them and be 'put in the snake pit [where] they'll fry her brain.' Jack is level-headed and reserved, while Orrie favors drastic expressions (after embarrassing Jack, she notes, 'Winding my brother up is like shooting babies after you nail their feet to the floor'). Though the plot repeatedly strains credibility, kids who crave adventure tales will likely enjoy this rocky ride. Ages 10-14." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Orrie and Jack don't know much about sailing. One day they are basking on a beach in the Canary Islands where their mum has taken them on holiday. Two days later they board a small yacht, along with their little brother, their mother, and her new boyfriend, Skip, to sail across the Atlantic on a lark. Then Skip, the owner of Good Company, falls overboard. Something is wrong with their mother. She won't leave her cabin. Orrie and Jack are used to taking care of her, but now it is up to them to navigate the thirty-six-foot boat to Antigua safely.
Lost at Sea, written in the alternating voices of two very smart, funny, and real kids, tells the story of a family working through their problems. It is also an intense and gripping adventure at sea that will have readers on the edge of their seats to the very last page.
About the Author
Jonathan Neale was born in New York City and now lives in London. He is the author of books of nonfiction and fiction for adults, though this is his first novel for young people. He has traveled in India, Nepal, Japan, Vietnam, the islands around Tahiti, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Venezuela, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. He has also sailed across the Atlantic in a small boat.