Book Review: Not Just for the Young Adventurer
By Tara Dugan Kusumoto
When 13-year old Maya sits brooding on the sailboat’s deck, craving a normal life on land with school and friends, she cannot anticipate how quickly the tedium of her seafaring life will change.
In The Lost Island of Tamarind, first-time novelist Nadia Aguiar tells the story of how Maya, her younger brother Simon and baby sister Penny must fend for themselves after their parents disappear overboard during a violent storm.
Reminiscent of Bermuda Triangle legends (appropriate, considering Aguiar was born and raised in Bermuda), the kids lose all means of navigation and communication, leaving them to follow the winds and currents, which steer them over the mysterious blue line to the island of Tamarind.
Though geared to a young adult audience (10-14 years old), this is not just for the young adventurer. It’s for readers of all ages who seek the innocence of an adventure that allows you to suspend reality.
Whether unraveling the mystery of the flying fish and the Cloud Forest people, evading the Child Stealer who rides atop the jaguar, or escaping from the pirates and soldiers teeming the island, the trio must rely on their father’s logbook, which continues to reveal clues to the mysteries of the island, creative scheming, new friends and a solid dose of luck to survive in this land that doesn’t appear on any map.
Along with the everyday trials of sibling bickering and the more serious menaces of the jungle, river and mountains, The Lost Island of Tamarind is also layered with broader social commentary.
The island has been torn apart by war, a battle that has raged for years over the precious ophalla gem that [lights] the night air with what seems to be a supernatural glow. Akin to the ongoing devastation over diamond mining and trade, ophalla provides a primary undercurrent of conflict: the root of the island’s tarnished economies and instability, and the catalyst for a group of local girls who are laying the groundwork for a peaceful revolution.
Though at times contrived – a risk of any plot that asks you to suspend reality for hundreds of pages – overall the storyline works, giving readers plenty of reasons to root for Maya and her siblings as they try to get back to the Outside.
With a simple writing style made appealing through Aguiar’s ease with language of the sea, The Lost Island of Tamarind is a perfect escape for readers seeking suspense lined with innocence. Like Maya, who felt [her parents ] restlessness, their love of adventure, in her own veins for the first time, readers are drawn to the allure of the unfamiliar.
Tara lives, reads and writes in Breckenridge, Colo.