April 16, 2014

A stowaway on Noah's ark

by Donna Jo Napoli

The rain comes suddenly, fast and hard. Sixteen days later, it is still raining. The waters have taken Sebah's family and friends. Sebah herself is trapped in a tree, with only her cat and a boy named Aban for company. They build a raft to wait out the storm. When the ark appears, only Sebah has the strength to climb on board. 

A survival tale like no other, Napoli takes readers on a harrowing voyage full of desperation and fear. The non-religious Sebah feels great empathy for the animals and tries to ease their discomfort by letting them out of the cages. She must do this with great care, afraid of being caught not only by the predatory beasts, but by Noah's family as well. Their faith is severely tested as they must wait for nearly a year before the waters fully subside. Trapped on board the dark and stinking ark, they start to argue and fight, questioning Noah's trust in the Creator.

An often strange, complicated novel, with surprising twists and intriguing characters. The drama is full of heightened emotion, made even more intense by the claustrophobic setting.  Dry land, when it appears, is a relief. But despite this, it still seems to end rather abruptly. It is up to the reader to imagine what comes next.

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