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The Wanderer    by Sharon Creech order for
by Sharon Creech
Order:  USA  Can
Macmillan, 2001 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Wanderer is deservedly a Newbery Honor Book for 2001. Three-Sided Sophie, who according to her father is either 'in dreamland or earthland or mule-land', is called by the sea. She's going to sail across the ocean on a forty-five-foot sailboat, The Wanderer, with three uncles and two cousins, a bunch of guys 'doing guy things'. They fail to dissuade her and she tags along.

The story of a journey that changes every one of them, is told both from Sophie's perspective and from that of her cousin Cody, through his log entries and her journal. It is Cody who informs us that Sophie is an orphan adopted by his aunt and uncle three years ago, and there are other revelations about his own immediate family. The crew agree to teach each other something on the voyage and Sophie chooses to tell stories recounted by Bompie, the grandfather she has never met. She is a skilled storyteller and Cody a successful teacher of juggling.

The boat initially makes frequent stops at islands like Grand Manan. Sophie and Cody are delighted by dolphin escorts and seals, clamming through sand and seaweed, and searching for ghosts. But the author hints at secrets ... 'It's as if everyone talks in code where Sophie is concerned. Even Sophie talks in code.' Slowly Cody and the reader find out more of Sophie's background, the crew all learn more about each other, and Sophie has a recurring dream about a huge wave. Then they're caught in a storm and The Wave hits.

The Wanderer shows a child coping with tragedy and its aftermath and teaches us to look below the surface, of both people and events. Sophie, the true Wanderer of the story, recovers much of what she lost when The Wave descended to darken her life and she finally learns how to live 'right here, right now.'

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