Author: Heidi R. Kling
Publication: Putnam Juvenile (June 10, 2010)
Description: Still haunted by nightmares of her mother’s death, fifteen-year-old Sienna Jones reluctantly travels to Indonesia with her father’s relief team to help tsunami orphans with their post traumatic stress disorder—something Sienna knows a lot about. Since her mother’s plane went missing over the Indian Ocean three years before, Sienna doesn’t do anything if it involves the ocean or planes, so this trip is a big step forward.
But the last thing she expects is to fall for Deni, a brooding Indonesian boy who lives at the orphanage, and just so happens to be HOT. When Deni hears a rumor that his father may be alive, Sienna doesn’t think twice about running away with him to the epicenter of the disaster. Unfortunately, what they find there could break both their hearts.
My Thoughts: This was an interesting story about grief and moving on. Sienna has stopped taking any sort of risk since her mother was lost somewhere in Thailand or the Indian Ocean. She no longer surfs, flies in airplanes, or explores her relationship with Spider who was a childhood friend. She suffers from frequent nightmares about plane crashes. She just wants to hide and hope that her mother is not dead but will be found and return to her. Her father, a psychiatrist, convinces her to come along to an orphanage in Indonesia while he works with children who survived a tsunami and are suffering from post-traumatic stress. To say that Sienna is reluctant to go vastly understates her feelings. But she is convinced eventually.
Once in Indonesia Sienna is at first overwhelmed with the cultural differences and the poverty but soon adjusts and begins to care for the younger children in her dorm. Then there is Deni... Their first meeting was like a "Romeo and Juliet" moment. Their eyes met and they were immediately attracted. They have a lot in common -- lost parents, nightmares, post-traumatic stress, and hope that their lost parent is just lost and not dead. They form a forbidden friendship. He is 17, she is 15. He is Muslim, she is not. The rules of the orphanage forbid boys and girls from spending time together. Together they explore the area around the orphanage and learn more about each other.
Naturally, she supports him when he hears that someone has been asking about him at his home and goes with him to check out the rumors. What they learn changes both of their lives.
I liked the character of Sienna. I thought she reacted as many children do who lose a parent. She hasn't been able to come to any sort of closure and resents that her father seems to have been able to move on with his life. She particularly resents the woman she sees as his new girlfriend. I thought the way she changed as a result of her trip was realistic.
This was an interesting book of contemporary fiction. I recommend it to lovers of realistic fiction.
Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge