Issy is a 15-year-old teenage girl living in a small community in Newfoundland. Her older sister is a bitter school principal, whose dreams were tossed out the window when their mother fell ill after Issy was born. Their mother is bedridden, and their father is good to them but is away working on the sea for most of the year. Issy is determined to escape when she turns 16, but is held back by one thing: she can’t read.
I really liked this book – the community is very tightly knit, and Sheppard really conveys that small town sense of everyone knowing each other. The family members all go through their own major transformations, which was good for the story. There is a sense of satisfaction when you complete the book, and even though Issy is the main character (and narrator), the entire family changes in many ways.
This would be a great story for a teen girl who’s looking for a realistic novel. Issy is painfully shy but quite likeable. There is minor romance, but the driving force of this novel is Issy’s personal development in the middle of a small community.