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Book Review: Hurricane Mia: A Caribbean Adventure by Donna Marie Seim, illustrated by Susan Spellman

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How wonderful to be moody, resentful, selfish, fresh, and all-about-me — how wonderful to be a 12-year-old girl. The heroine of Hurricane Mia: A Caribbean Adventure is a young lady named Mia who is sent to the islands with her brother for the summer while their mother undergoes treatment for leukemia.

Mia starts the journey with an attitude. She and her younger brother, Jack, will be staying with their paternal grandparents, and Gram is a bit of a rule-maker. Mia’s original plans had her going away for the summer with her best friend and they had zillions of pleasurable activities planned. Darn Mom!

Gram may be strict, and she may  occasionally seem arbitrary, but sometimes she has good reasons for her rules. Like the first one that Mia disobeys — always close the front gate. One afternoon, Mia escapes from her grandparents boring home and walks into the center of town, leaving the gate  hanging open. When she returns, wild donkeys have invaded the yard, causing a ruckus, destroying Gram’s flowers, and making a mess.

Mia tends to be impulsive and doesn’t always think things through. Neisha, a local girl, befriends her and mentions a wise woman who practices bush medicine, Auntie Cecilia. It seems that Auntie Cecilia concocts teas that can cure anything. Mia sees getting a curative tea for her mother as her ticket home. The woman, however, lives on a different island, and one needs to travel by boat to visit her.

Mia, Jack, and Neisha develop a scheme to get to the other island by “borrowing” Grandpa’s boat while he and Gram are taking their afternoon nap. This scheme could have tragic results, and that’s where the adventure begins. The three children make it to Auntie Cecilia’s without a hitch, but the trouble starts when they try to return home.

It’s difficult to be 12. You’re not a child, and you’re far from being an adult (hmmm… that’s true about some adults I know, too). At 12 it’s not always possible to imagine potential repercussions.  What started out to be an adventure, turns into a frightening nightmare experience when everything, from the fish to the weather, turns against the kids.

Suspense mounts and excitement builds as the children are tested to their limits by situations that could prove fatal. Will they all survive? Can they trust and rely on each other? Is there a hero among them?

Hurricane Mia is an absorbing story for tween readers. Anyone who’s had her heart set on going someplace and suffered the disappointment of going somewhere else — no matter how beautiful or interesting — can relate to Mia’s predicament. Author Donna Marie Siem keeps it real with an ending that is not horrendously improbable.

Bottom Line: Would I buy Hurricane Mia?  Yes, I already have an 11-year-old in mind as the recipient. (By the way, I understand that all 12-year-old girls are not moody, resentful, selfish,  fresh, and all-about-me… when they’re getting their own way.)

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