Two Voyages – Two Teenagers


In Red Sea by Diane Tullson, 14 year old Libby is on an unwanted adventure with her mother and new stepfather aboard a sailboat for a year. Even the prospect of no school and visiting foreign ports can’t seem to make Libby happy with the situation.  She wants to go home and be with her friends, and she can’t let herself like her stepfather without feeling like a traitor to her real Dad.  When the boat is attacked by pirates (who, BTW, are nothing more than thieves and low-lifes) her stepfather is killed and her mother is seriously injured.   Libby has to guide the boat to safety and face up the the fact that everything that happened was her fault.


In The Voyage of the Frog by Gary Paulsen,  14 year old David becomes lost at sea during a sudden storm.  He was only on the boat to fulfill his Uncle Owen’s dying wish to have his ashes scattered at sea.  Since it was supposed to be a short trip, he hadn’t bothered to take a radio or flares – or even food – with him.  He had ignored every safety precaution his Uncle ever tried to teach him and now he was alone with no idea what to do or the dangers he would face.

I’m not gonna lie – the first picture that comes to my mind when I hear the word “Pirate” is Johnny Depp. So, I set myself up to be majorly disappointed before I opened either book, didn’t I? However, it turns out that these two books have a lot less to do about pirates than they do about survival.

Though both books are well-written with clear accounts of life aboard a sailboat and both have compelling story lines, I preferred Red Sea because of the interaction of the characters before and after the big “Event”.  The Voyage of the Frog was all told from David’s point of view.

Still, it was nice to try something different from the usual dystopian tales that seem to be so prevalent in Teen Literature just now.  Believe it or not, the real world – with ordinary people – can be just as interesting as super heroes in some futuristic fantasy.

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