Publisher: G. P Putnam's Sons (Penguin)
Publication Date: June 10, 2010
Rating: 5 Bookcases
Summary from Goodreads: Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother’s disappearance over the Indian ocean three years before, fifteen-year old California girl Sienna Jones reluctantly travels with her psychiatrist father’s volunteer team to six-months post-tsunami Indonesia where she meets the scarred and soulful orphaned boy, Deni, who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.
She knows they can’t be together, so why can’t she stay away from him? And what about her old best friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may or may not be waiting for her back home? And why won’t her dad tell her the truth about her mother’s plane crash? The farther she gets from home, the closer she comes to finding answers.
And Sea’s real adventure begins.
Have you ever read a book that really made you think while you were reading it? And then it stuck with you for days afterword? That’s exactly what I experienced with Sea. While I was reading Sea, I was struck by the fact that not many books are set in Indonesia or Asia for that matter. I’ve only read one other book set in that region of the world this year, Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins. Once I was done, I couldn’t get the story and characters out of my head for days. I kept going back and reading chapters over and over.
Sienna used to be fearless and full of life until three years ago her mother died in an airplane accident. Still grieving over the death of her mother, Sienna is hesitant when, as a birthday gift, her father asks her to accompany him and his team to Indonesia. It is six months after the 2004 tsunami and Team Hope is traveling to Yogyakarta, Indonesia to help at an orphanage. After taking time to think about it, Sienna ends up going with her father and finds more than she thought possible, including bravery, romance and the truth about her mother’s death.
It’s hard to believe that Sea is Heidi Kling’s debut novel because it is so well written, with rich details and an engaging story. The characters are well written and fully realized, even characters that are only part of the story for a page or two are individuals and completely recognizable. Part of the reason the details are so vivid is because the reader sees everything through Sienna’s eyes and everything about being in Indonesia is new to her. The different aspects of the story - the romance, the relationships Sienna develops with the orphans, dealing with her mom's death, overcoming her fears - don’t compete for the readers attention, instead they overlap and fit together perfectly to create a powerful story.
I really like Sienna as the main character. She is instantly relatable. Her fears are understandable and so is the courage it takes for her to get on the plane and travel across the ocean. Sienna changes and grows a lot from the beginning of the book to the end. At the beginning she was a bit withdrawn and wary of trying anything related to the ocean. As she travels and gets to know the children at the orphanage, Sienna begins to come out of her shell and starts the process of finally dealing with her mother’s death and some of her other fears.
Sea was a book that was hard to put down. I read it in one sitting. It made me cry and laugh and feel such a range of emotions that it felt like I was a part of the story too. I love books that pull you in like that, make you want to stay up all night reading and thinking about what just happened or what a character said or did. Sea should be on everyone’s to be read list. It is definitely one of my favorite reads of 2010.