The Wanderer

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Wanderer Book Poster Image
Award-winning tale takes risks with storytelling.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 17 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence

The violence of nature beats the crew up pretty well -- several injuries.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that some minor issues are raised, such as the value of organization. But the main topic is the literary style: Told in dual journals, gradually revealing the important backstory in hints and snippets, leaving loose ends, it's an unusual way to tell a story.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCapn Flint April 9, 2008

Sophie and I loved it!

Sophie is not only the main character, but the name of my daughter. We loved this book. Although Sophie's background is somewhat troubling, I rated the s... Continue reading
Adult Written bylmholtzmann April 9, 2008

Slow moving but good life lessons!

This book was a bit slow moving for both me and my 13 year old son. It was pretty much same old, same old until the end. It did have some good lessons about w... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bypurplecatroo April 9, 2008

UMM..

a bit odd but overall a good read. I thought it was weird but thats my personal opinion. Perfectly acceptable for anyone over 10.
Teen, 15 years old Written bytee-hee January 12, 2011

best book ever

this was definatly creech's best book yet. i cant understand why anyone could not like such a book, Its story could fuel your heart and captivate you mind... Continue reading

What's the story?

Sophie is excited to be sailing a 45-foot twin-masted schooner across the Atlantic to see her grandfather, Bompie, in England. Sailing with her are three uncles and two cousins. Uncle Dock is pursuing a lost love, Uncle Stew and his son Brian are obsessively organized and bossy, and Uncle Mo likes to criticize his son Cody, who enjoys driving him crazy in return.

In the first third of the book this motley crew works on getting the rather decrepit old boat ready for the voyage, and then making a shakedown cruise from Connecticut to Nova Scotia, with stops along the way. Then they head out into the open sea, where they encounter whales, dolphins, and a huge storm that nearly wrecks the boat.

Is it any good?

Lyrically told in alternating journal entries by Sophie and Cody, this exciting sailing adventure is merely the roiling surface of the sea of their lives. Underneath is the story of Bompie's life, revealed in a series of stories that Sophie tells the crew, and Sophie's life, which is not the way she portrays it in her journal. Through hints and snippets in Cody's journal, the reader gradually comes to understand the reality of her past, from which Sophie is hiding.

All of these stylistic techniques will make this especially fascinating to some experienced readers while it will confuse others. Children who are fascinated by sailing will also be drawn in, and those who have the patience to wait for the gradual unfolding of the truth will be intrigued. The Wanderer has become a favorite choice for reading groups and literature circles because of its complexity, but for that same reason it should not be forced on kids who are not ready for it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the author's use of dueling narrators to tell a story. What are the differences between Cody and Sophie's versions of the same events? At what point do you realize that Sophie might not be telling the whole truth? How different would this book be if the author had chosen to use just one narrator?

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