Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman



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Nia yearns for the wonders of education, pursuing the career of literature and language. Unfortunately, the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia, offer naught except endless scorching heat and a scarce amount of money. Hardly sustaining her family’s food, Nia toils daily at the market, frying banana fritters and earning a mere handful of coins for dinner. As she struggles to save money for her dream, Nia rapidly notices the day’s earnings vanishing night after night and her father departing the home for hours to return dizzy and disoriented. Inquiring further, Nia discovers that her father consumes drugs nightly, exhausting their money in the process. Disheartened, Nia ponders a solution to halt her father’s constant drug intake and achieve her writing career. Luckily, an unexpected event reaps her instant rewards, although her benefit begins to seem far too pleasant to be true. Mysteries thicken and lies blur with the truth as Nia gradually unearths her family’s past, unraveling secrets that transform Nia’s entire lifestyle.

This novel contained a multitude of suspicious events, begging the reader’s attention and never ceasing to evoke a sense of thrill within the reader. Although I didn’t quite enjoy the author’s style of writing, the events and the thrill did not disappoint. Furthermore, pleasant stories and folktales were woven into Nia’s dreams and thoughts quite artfully, which was quite a contrast to Nia’s mundane lifestyle. Additionally, the novel contained quite an amount of subtle violence, which certainly aided in the constant action. Once more, mysteries lurked within the main conflict, clues seldom revealed, contributing to a truly captivating novel.

One memorable event within the novel lies within the beginning of the novel. Nia quickly opens her stand and begins to create the banana fritter batter, attempting to ignore the relentless heat. The ingredients dance through her mind, forming a chant as she follows the recipe. Eagerly, she awaits customers, whose rupiah may earn her an education.



Reviewed by Soumya, Twin Hickory Area Library

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