It is 1856 and twelve year old Celia Snow has somehow managed to convince her whaling Captain father and mother to allow her to come along on this next trip. Her younger brother will stay behind in Massachusetts with family, but she will have her spot on the whaling ship with her dog, Toby. It doesn’t take her long to realize that life on the open sea is rough – literally and figuratively. Celia is constantly torn between the life she’s chosen and missing the life she left behind.
This story is told in letters that Celie writes to her cousin back home. I liked that it wasn’t a straight up diary and allowed for someone to write back, though clearly not on a regular basis. It also showed how delayed news from “back home” was for these whalers, especially as they were generally out to sea for a couple years at a time. And I think that is the biggest take away here – this is a good historical fiction story that will introduce 5th-8th grade readers to the life of the New England whaling culture and experience.
Historical fiction isn’t really my cup of tea, so it took me a bit to warm up to this (I was encouraged to read something by this author for class, and this was at my library). Celie annoyed me from the start as I thought she was pretty whiny and annoying. But I did warm up to her and enjoyed watching her evolve throughout her journey. I also became fascinated with the life and treachery found on a whaling ship – something I knew nothing about despite having lived in New England for the past 14 almost 15 years.
I would give this to a middle grade reader who likes historical fiction, especially in the New England area. I would also consider this to one who likes adventure stories as whaling was certainly a dangerous endeavor.
If Ever I Return Again
by Corinne Demas