Oh my goodness…..what a book! I picked up Blown Away because it is a contender for this year's Virginia Reader's Choice Award in the Elementary category. I was happily reading through a sweet story of a boy named Jake, his friends Mara, a mule named Jewel and her best dog friend Ruby and an old man named Sharkey. Jake's life revolves around his family and his friends in the 1930s Florida Keys. Not surprisingly, the story paints sunny mental pictures of sand, shore, fishing and sweet life in a small, remote town until……the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 blows through and gives the story its title. By page 148 I was so convincingly wrapped up in the monster hurricane that I couldn't put the book down until I finished it on page 250. Wow! This is an incredible story about a "storm of the century", government response and the combination of fate, circumstances and "grit" that enable people to survive the strongest forces of nature. I was impressed by and touched by the role poetry played in this story…a very nice way of integrating emotions of the characters in good and challenging times.
After the hurricane, Jake must do what he can to save his family with some unusual help from his friends. The author thoughtfully provides readers with details that are true about the history and facts the story were based on. Blown Away is a great book for boys as the main character is a thirteen year old boy. I'll be waiting to see if Blow Away wins a prize in Virginia this year.
Harlow, J. Blown Away. (2007). New York. Aladdin Paperbacks.