Review - Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby (5)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby
Publisher: Lerner Publishing
Publication Date: 1 March 2011
Genre: YA contemporary fiction
My Copy: received for review from NetGalley - Kindle

"I don't realize I'm crying until he glances at me. For a moment, I see the look of anguish in his eyes, then he blinks it away and slips off into the water. I immediately think of the gator. It's still down there somewhere. . . ."

A science-class field trip to the Everglades is supposed to be fun, but Sarah's new at Glades Academy, and her fellow freshmen aren't exactly making her feel welcome. When an opportunity for an unauthorized side trip on an airboat presents itself, it seems like a perfect escape—an afternoon without feeling like a sore thumb. But one simple oversight turns a joyride into a race for survival across the river of grass. Sarah will have to count on her instincts—and a guy she barely knows—if they have any hope of making it back alive.

This book was a little different from most YA novels I read. The plot focuses around Sarah and Andy in their struggle to survive trapped out in the Florida Everglades. They are ten miles away from the levee which can lead them home with a can of Spam and a bottle of Gatorade. No one knew they were leaving and no one knows where they were headed. It's broke up into days rather than chapters, and the pacing goes pretty well with this guideline despite some slow parts. The story was enthralling, especially when you take into account that it's based on a true story. Dialogue between the characters is a little lacking, but what is lacking there is made up in excellent descriptions. Rorby is great with imagery. I could visualize everything so clearly it was like being there up to your knees in swamp with Sarah and Andy while an alligator watches. It was also refreshing to have a YA story with very little romance between the main characters. Rather than knowing each other for a couple days, or hours even, and falling madly in love, the relationship between Andy and Sarah is more realistic. There are a few moments of "testing the waters," so to speak, but nothing I'd even rate as PG.

I had trouble connecting the Andy in the beginning of the story to the Andy towards the end. He's very level-headed and patient. While a little rough on the outside, the reader can see his soft heart during sweet, well placed moments of tenderness. Then he begins to make rash decisions and other actions which I don't want to specifically name for fear of giving away too much. However, I suppose if I was stuck in the Everglades without food or water I'd start to lose my calm too. Sarah is such a spineless creature in the beginning. When all she does is freak out and complain the whole first day, all I wanted to do was slap her. I kept waiting for her to face reality. In the second half of the book, she comes into her own. She becomes the driving force of their trek to safety as Andy begins to lose it. I was thrilled with her character by the ending. I
loved Teapot. Without the little duckling, the story could have been a little sluggish in parts, but I definitely found myself rooting for the baby duck.

I was a little thrown off at the end with the race card. I don't want to say too much because as I've read from the author's website, it was planned this way, but I felt a scene towards the beginning and a scene towards the end would have made more sense if it was mentioned earlier.

I'm finding this review very hard to write without giving away too much, so I think I'm going to stop there. I hope you'll check out this tale of survival and enjoy it as much as I did.

Other thoughts:
I like the cover, but I'm not sure it quite goes with what I was imagining when I was reading the book. At least, the people seem to small compared to the rest of their surroundings anyway. I like the alligator in the bottom corner though. It looks like there might be a little duck silhouette following them too.

Favorite quotes:
I have no intention of telling him how my brother stood on a ladder in our laundry room, which shares a drop-ceiling with the bathroom, and pitched a snake into the shower with me. He still loves to tell his friends how I took the shower curtain and rod down with me and looked like a cat in a sack trying to get out the door. –pg 48

Andy gets himself situated on a limb just above me while I spray my legs with insect repellent, which makes the ant bites sting worse. It’s all I can do not to claw my skin. I hand the can to him and fan my legs. My one bare, crinkle-skinned foot glows white in the moonlight, except for my red toenails. They look as black as witch’s lips in the dim light.
–pg 114

Rating breakdown:
Plot: 5 stars
Pacing: 3 stars
Characters: 5 stars
Character relationships: 4 stars
Recommend: Yes


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