Cover Image

Sea Change by D. Tullson

Tullson, Diane.  Sea Change. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 2010.  Print.

Sea Change is an exciting story about Lucas, a 17 year-old who flies to an isolated fishing lodge in the Pacific Northwest, where his emotionally-distant father works. Lucas is left alone at the closed lodge with a young Aboriginal girl, Sumi, who is the caretaker. When Sumi is injured, Lucas, who has little experience in the wilderness or on water, must pilot the boat several hours down the foggy coast to take Sumi to a logging camp where she can get help.

This is a typical “coming-of-age” plot, in which a youth sets out on an adventure, endures several tests or trials and returns a changed person. A sea change is either a “marked” or “radical” change or a “change brought about by the sea.” In this novel, Lucas undergoes both forms of sea change.  First, he proves himself on the water by successfully navigating an unfamiliar coastline under dangerous conditions. Second, he wins the respect of other men through his handling of the crisis and matures in his understanding of his father.

The Orca Soundings series is designed for reluctant teen readers. The books are short, high-interest novels with reading levels from Grade 2 to Grade 4.5. In Sea Change, Diane Tullson accomplishes this combination masterfully. While the author writes at a low reading level, she also keeps the dialogue believable for a 17-year old.

[Sumi] says, “What he was pissed about was me shooting so close to the helicopter.”
I sit up.  “You mean you might have hit the helicopter?”  I imagine the fiery carnage.  “You could have killed us!”
She takes the bottle back from me.  “And ruined a perfectly good helicopter.”
“Jeez, Sumi, you have no idea how happy I am that you killed that deer.” (p.64)

The first person narration draws the reader into the story and creates the sense of “being there” that will keep teen readers engaged.   For example:

I fix my stare on Sumi and watch where she points. Sometimes I hear her cursing, and I know I haven’t exactly interpreted her bearing. We’re bouncing off the waves, and spray nails us in the face. I squeeze my eyes almost closed. Driving fast, the air is so much colder and my fingers are frozen on the steering tiller. She motions wildly to steer left and I cut sharply, barely scraping past a log. How she saw it, I do not know. (p. 100)

Overall this is a well-written and entertaining story which will hold the attention of the reluctant teenage male reader. Sea Change would be a good addition both public and junior high and high school libraries.

Recommendation:  4 stars out of 4
Reviewer:  Sandy Campbell

Sandy is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta, who has written hundreds of book reviews across many disciplines.  Sandy thinks that sharing books with children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.