Day, Christine

The Sea in Winter

(2) 4-6 "My ballet studio has always been my sanctuary." In October, twelve-year-old Maisie ­suffered a devastating knee injury and subsequent ACL surgery. Now it's February, and with hard work and physical therapy she has been cleared to go on a winter-break hiking trip to Washington's Olympic Peninsula with her parents and younger brother. Maisie's family is Native--her mom is Makah; her father, who has passed away, was Piscataway; her stepfather, Jack, is an enrolled citizen of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and eager for their journey to the Elwha River. On vacation, Maisie, in a rush to prove her recovery and without dealing with the emotional fallout from her surgery, reinjures herself. The story takes place primarily over the course of four days, during which we get to know Maisie's family uncommonly well through quotidian details and worldview-encompassing conversations; secondary characters, too, are nuanced and vividly drawn. Maisie's pain is specific to her experience while being relatable to many readers going through big life changes. Her alienation, denial, and despair make her eventual opening up feel cathartic and narratively earned. The Pacific Northwest setting is atmospherically described and indicative of this Native blended family's formative experiences. An appended author's note provides more details about the Native history touched on in the story.


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