October 18, 2012
by Sheree Fitch
In the aftermath of a family tragedy, thirteen-year-old Minn Hotchkiss is sent to spend the summer with her cantankerous grandmother in the tiny seaside town of Boulder Basin, Nova Scotia. Almost as soon as she arrives, Minn discovers the skull of a human baby on the beach. Her grandmother adds the skull to her collection of bones, relics of the most tragic shipwreck in Maritime history before the Titanic.
The gravesite of the S.S. Atlantic's lost passengers is slowly being washed out to sea, and no one seems interested in preserving it. Minn feigns disinterest at first, but as she reads more about the disaster, she becomes obsessed by the fate of one of the passengers, Thomas Hindley, a boy her own age. Through flashbacks, we learn more about Thomas and his family, and what happened on the night of the sinking.
Minn dreams up a risky plan to save the graves, helped by a boy named Max, who is not who he seems. In an interesting (though obvious) twist, his true identity, when revealed, turns a coming-of-age novel into a rather scary, yet credible, ghost story.
Best known for her light-hearted poetry, Sheree Fitch has crafted a haunting, moving novel of sadness, love, and tragedy. Even with prose, her words are poetic and beautiful. Leavened with doses of humour thanks to Minn's overactive imagination, she has crafted a very remarkable first novel. Entrancing.
For more stories about shipwrecks, see my other blog Interesting Nonfiction for Inquisitive Kids.