author: Julie Bertagna
how I read it: I borrowed this one three times from the public library
In the year 2099, the polar icecaps have melted and most of the world is underwater. 15-year-old Mara and her small village cling to a life of subsistence farming on Wing, an island in the North Atlantic that gets smaller every year. Finally, caught in a terrifying storm that seems to be eating up their island altogether, they set off into the ocean on small boats, with no guarantee that they will ever find anywhere to land.
The characters in this book are strong, realistic and likeable, but Bertagna doesn't pull any punches. Bad things sometimes happen to good people in this book, the way that they do in wars and environmental disasters. Bertagna researched refugee camps when writing this book, and this really comes through during some of the scenes. I could feel the hopelessness, hunger, fear, frustration and sheer boredom during the part of the book that drew on this research.
This is a truly remarkable book of courage, loss and perseverence. The fact that I read it three times (and would happily read it again) is testament to the quality of both story-telling and writing. Honestly, I don't feel that this book has gotten anywhere near the attention that it deserves. I've never met anyone who's read it, unless it's been on my recommendation. I don't understand what makes one book a bestseller while another equally good book - like Exodus - remains relatively unknown. If any young adult fiction belongs on a best-seller list, then this one should be right up there with the best of them.
This book made me want to: become a better swimmer.
Verdict: Truly beautiful book that I think should be on everyone's "must-read" list.
Sequels: Zenith (available) and Aurora (not yet finished). Exodus can be read as a standalone novel - no cliffhangers, although the ending is both open and bittersweet.