Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Review: The Islanders by Mary Alice Monroe

Today's read is perfect for a summer adventure...because that's exactly what it is.  This one doesn't come out until June 15th (which is really too far away) and is written by a prize winning author. Living on a small farm with forests, creeks, and even a waterfall, this one not only reminded me a bit of my own kids' adventures but reminded me of the days I was able to do the same when visiting my own grandmother...however, the island setting on this one definitely even tops forests and farms.

by Mary Alice Monroe
Middle Grade Contemporary
304 pages
ages 8 to 12

JUNE 15th!!!

From New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe comes a beautiful story of friendship, loss, and the healing power of nature in her first book for middle grade readers.

Eleven-year-old Jake’s life has just turned upside-down. His father was wounded in Afghanistan, and his mother is going to leave to care for him. That means Jake’s spending the summer on tiny Dewees Island with his grandmother. The island is a nature sanctuary—no cars or paved roads, no stores or restaurants. To make matters worse, Jake’s grandmother doesn’t believe in cable or the internet. Which means Jake has no cell phone, no video games...and no friends. This is going to be the worst summer ever!

He’s barely on the island before he befriends two other kids—Macon, another “summer kid,” and Lovie, know-it-all who lives there and shows both Jake and Macon the ropes of life on the island. All three are struggling with their own family issues and they quickly bond, going on adventures all over Dewees Island. Until one misadventure on an abandoned boat leads to community service. Their punishment? Mandatory duty on the Island Turtle Team. The kids must do a daily dawn patrol of the beach on the hunt for loggerhead sea turtle tracks. When a turtle nest is threatened by coyotes, the three friends must find a way to protect it. Can they save the turtle nest from predators? Can Jake’s growing love for the island and its inhabitants (be they two-legged, four-legged, feathered, or finned) help to heal his father?



                                       * Summer adventure
                                       * playing in nature
                                       * friendship
                                       * dealing with family problems (severe injury of a father)
                                       * grandparent/grandchild relations
                                       * environment and animals


The thrill of discovering an island unhampered by constant, parental supervision and learning to defeat tough problems with new found friends makes this a perfect summer adventure to dive into.

Jake is anything but excited about spending his summer on a lonely island with his older grandmother, no friends, and no internet, but with his father healing from a severe accident, he knows he has to help out however he can. The moment he steps onto the island, his views start to change as he learns that he not only can now drive his own golf cart but even has the chance to learn how to go out on his own boat. Better yet, he gets to know two other kids, and after a mishap, they start becoming great friends. Together, they not only learn more about the island, help each other through their own problems, but might even learn something more.

This is simply a wonderfully done book and perfect as a summer read. Jake is easy to connect with, and despite his grumbling moments, exactly the kind of kid anyone would enjoy hanging out with. The idea of roaming free on an island will awaken the small adventurer in many readers and have them wishing they could jump onto the island themselves and join in.

The first pages set the scene and characters up nicely. Jake has a lot on his plate and a lot to work through, but that doesn't bog down or ruin the fun. The two friends he meets have their own, inviting personalities and rough corners, which makes them slide together nicely. It's a great trio for adventure, and they definitely have tons of that.

Nature is big in these pages, but on an island which remains largely untouched by civilization outside of the few residents, that's a given. While environmental issues do dance along with the rest of the tale, the simple joy of heading out and discovering the world overtakes everything and makes it into a fun read. Add the more serious messages of friendship, and Jake coming to terms with his father's circumstances, and it's a rich tale as well.

And here she is...

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-seven books, including her newest novel, The Summer of Lost and Found, and her first middle grade book, The Islanders. Monroe’s books have been published worldwide. She’s earned numerous accolades and awards, including: induction into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame; the Southwest Florida Author of Distinction Award; the South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence; the RT Lifetime Achievement Award; the International Book Award for Green Fiction; and the Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. She is the cofounder of the hit Web show and podcast Friends & Fiction. An active conservationist, she lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at and at

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