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The Islanders

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From New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe comes a beautiful story of friendship, loss, and the healing power of nature in her first book for middle grade readers.

Eleven-year-old Jake’s life has just turned upside-down. His father was wounded in Afghanistan, and his mother is going to leave to care for him. That means Jake’s spending the summer on tiny Dewees Island with his grandmother. The island is a nature sanctuary—no cars or paved roads, no stores or restaurants. To make matters worse, Jake’s grandmother doesn’t believe in cable or the internet. Which means Jake has no cell phone, no video games...and no friends. This is going to be the worst summer ever!

He’s barely on the island before he befriends two other kids—Macon, another “summer kid,” and Lovie, know-it-all who lives there and shows both Jake and Macon the ropes of life on the island. All three are struggling with their own family issues and they quickly bond, going on adventures all over Dewees Island. Until one misadventure on an abandoned boat leads to community service. Their punishment? Mandatory duty on the Island Turtle Team. The kids must do a daily dawn patrol of the beach on the hunt for loggerhead sea turtle tracks. When a turtle nest is threatened by coyotes, the three friends must find a way to protect it. Can they save the turtle nest from predators? Can Jake’s growing love for the island and its inhabitants (be they two-legged, four-legged, feathered, or finned) help to heal his father?

Mic Smith Photography

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-seven books, including her newest novel, The Summer of Lost and Found, and her first middle grade book, The Islanders. Monroe’s books have been published worldwide. She’s earned numerous accolades and awards, including: induction into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame; the Southwest Florida Author of Distinction Award; the South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence; the RT Lifetime Achievement Award; the International Book Award for Green Fiction; and the Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. She is the cofounder of the hit Web show and podcast Friends & Fiction. An active conservationist, she lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at MaryAliceMonroe.com and at Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe.

Eleven-year-old New Jersey boy Jake spends the summer with his grandmother on Dewees Island, South Carolina.

Jake’s Air Force mom must remain with his dad, who was severely injured while serving in Afghanistan, leaving Jake with no other options. He narrates his own tale, admitting his all-consuming fears for his dad. Grandmother Honey appears somewhat unkempt. She is easily tired and lives in a messy house with a refrigerator containing spoiled food, a result of a long depression after being widowed. Despite the lack of internet, Jake grows to love his loft bedroom surrounded by his dad’s childhood books and nature journals. Honey gives him chores and insists that he spend his time outdoors exploring the island and recording his observations in his own journal. Saving his writing for descriptive letters to his dad, Jake prefers to draw what he sees, and his pencil sketches enhance the sense of place. Jake’s new friends, Lovie and Macon, share his adventures, and the friends encourage each other, providing comfort and understanding when needed. With guidance from a newly energized Honey, they even become absorbed in protecting loggerhead turtle nests. Monroe and May seamlessly incorporate fascinating nature facts into a tale of Jake’s adventures and near disasters. Readers will admire Jake’s compassion, perseverance, and strength and find themselves moved to laughter and tears as his summer unfolds. Most major characters are assumed White; Macon is Black.

A tender, warmhearted tale in a memorable setting. (sources) (Fiction. 8-12)

– Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2021

More books from this author: Mary Alice Monroe