The Island of the Blue Dolphins was one of my favorite books as a child and upon reading it again as an adult I discovered that it is still by far one of my most loved books. The story is one of adventure, love, loneliness and survival and strikes at the heartstrings of children and adults alike. The fact that the book is based on a true story only adds to the appeal, giving the story a sense of realism and allowing the reader to grow ever closer to the characters in the story.
Set on a small island off the coast of California, the book has an atmosphere that gives a little of something to everyone. A sense of antiquity for history lovers, a sense of isolation for fans of drama and, of course, a sense of wonder for children. The story made me laugh, cry, and feel a wide range of emotions in between, ranging from longing to contentment.
The plot may seem simple to some and please do not read this paragraph if you have not yet read the book. A young girl stranded alone on an island, yearning for her family and friends but unwilling to give up. Beyond the main plot, however, there are a myriad of subplots. The wildlife on the island, for example, from the pack of wild dogs, one of which she eventually befriends, to the bird she catches to ease her loneliness. Nature is another factor, ranging from the chore of feeding and clothing herself to weather dangers such as storms and even a tsunami. The book is never dull, never slow, and is sure to delight any reader who enjoys a good tale of adventure. The characters, as I mentioned earlier, are easy to love, particularly the main character, who is the only character in the majority of the book. She is strong, spirited and determined, an inspiration to us all. It's easy to feel her pain as well as her happiness as she experiences both the good and bad aspects of her lonely island.
As for the writing itself, it is superb. Understandable to young readers but neither too slow nor too simple for advanced readers. The author uses metaphors seamlessly, giving the reader a real feel for the island and the girl's situation without being overly verbose or wordy. The events are woven together perfectly, one event leading to another fluidly. The message of the book is clear. Family and friends are essential but humans can withstand loneliness and tribulations through willpower and, most importantly, through hope.
There was a movie made of this book but, sadly, I never watched it. If it's anything like the book, it's bound to be a great movie. However, as I have never seen it, I can only truly recommend the book. Books, in my opinion, offer far more, such as the opportunity for the reader to use their imagination, to really see through the eyes of the characters rather than see simply what is presented to them.
All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, child and adult alike. It will continue to be one of my favorite books of all time. I have owned three copies of the book and I have no doubt that I will own more in the future. If you have a child full of wonder and a sense of adventure, or if you are an adult still full of wonder and adventure, read this book. In fact, even if you aren't, read the book. It may inspire you.
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