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“An albatross skeleton lay not far from me, feathers still clinging to the bone. Maybe I would end up like that. Maybe it would be years before anyone stumbled across my body. Maybe, when somebody did find me, they wouldn’t even be able to tell who I was,” Robie. –The Raft
by S.A. Bodeen
AR Test, Good for Reluctant Readers, Must Read
Robie feels lucky living on the small island of Midway which sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But sometimes being the only kid on the island makes her feel like she’s going crazy. To keep Robie sane, she goes to visit her aunt in Hawaii. After her aunt suddenly has to leave the island for work, Robie decides to catch a cargo flight home. When the plane hits a nasty storm, Robie thinks everything will be alright. Robie is wrong.
Suddenly, Robie is submerged in water. She’s fighting for her life. Then Max, the only other survivor, pulls her onto a raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. They have no water. Their only food is a bag of skittles. There are sharks. They have no idea if help is on the way. How long can they survive in the middle of the ocean?
The Raft is a sensational survival story that has several twists that will surprise readers. The story is told from Robie’s point of view, which allows her fears to jump to the surface. When Robie is on the raft, she finds a “Survival at Sea” card that adds irony to the story, as well as helps Robie stay alive. Robie clearly loves nature but also fears nature’s violence. Through Robie’s experiences, the story highlights the dangers humans pose to wildlife by throwing trash into the sea; this aspect of the story will encourage readers to make small changes that can dramatically help ocean creatures survive.
The story doesn’t only focus on survival at sea. Max is dealing with overcoming a tragedy. As his story unfolds, Max retells his story of love and loss. Readers will be pulled into his story and will cry at his loss. Max’s story adds suspense and a unique aspect to the story.
The story has short chapters, and some of the paragraphs are only one sentence; this makes the story easy to read as well as increases the story’s suspense. Robie makes several references to The Hunger Games which adds an interesting element to the story. The Raft is a fast-paced story that pulls the reader in from the very first chapter. Fans of survival stories will absolutely enjoy The Raft. For those who want to dip their toes into other ocean survival stories, add Adrift by Paul Griffin and Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrop to your reading list.
- While walking home, a man thinks Robie is someone he knows. The man attacks Robie. Unexpectedly, “a hand grabbed a chunk of my cornrows and yanked. My food went flying as I whipped around. . . He grabbed my cornrows tighter, forcing my head down so I could only look at the ground . . .” Some men begin yelling at the man, and he lets Robie go.
- A shark attacks a seal, which is able to escape to the beach. To stop the seal’s suffering, Robie grabbed a board, and “just as I was ready to bring the board down, her head fell my way, both of her eyes looking up at mine. There was no surprised in her gaze. Like she expected me to be there. To help her. . . Then I cried out as I brought the board down as hard as I could.”
- Max’s journal details how his girlfriend, Brandy, died in a car crash. His truck rolled over, and Max found her body. “Brandy lay where she’d been thrown through the windshield as soon as we’d rolled, just off the road. . . Oh God. Her neck was at an impossible angle, and I held her hand to my chest.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Crap and holy crap are used occasionally.
- Frickin’ is used five times. For example, when Robie was on an airplane, she “tried not to think about the dark and the water underneath us. Nothing by dark and all that frickin’ water.”
- Hell is used several times. When a man sees Robie on a deserted island, he asks, “What the hell is she doing out here?”
- Oh my God and Oh God are used as exclamations six times.
- Pissed is used four times. Robie is upset when she drops a partial bag of Skittles, she “blubbered, as part of me cursed the carelessness that had just lost us all the food we had, and another part was just pissed that I hadn’t eaten them all when I had the chance.”
- When Robie is on a plane, an engine stops. She prayed, “God, please please let everything be okay. Please don’t let us crash and please just let me get to Midway. And please let them (the pilots) be calm when I look up there.”
- The plane crashes, and Robie is pushed out into the ocean. When she is underwater, she prays, “God, please kill me already. This is more than I can take.” As she is still submerged, she prays, “God, please, let me reach the light. I want to live.”
- Robie found a “Survival at Sea” card in the raft. As she was reading it, the card explained how to escape a fire caused by a plane’s oil slick. Robie thought, “Thank God for small favors. My plane crashed, but at least there wasn’t a fiery oil slick to deal with.”
- When Robie hears a plane’s engine, Robie “said a silent prayer” hoping that it would find her.
- When Robie finds a tube of Carmex, she “cradled it to my chest for a moment, thanking Max, thanking God, thanking whoever put that ditty bag on the beach.”
- When Robie is worried that she is going to die, she says a prayer. Then she thinks, “When I was little, I did say my prayers every night. But when it was just me, and I was older, without Mom and Dad putting me to bed, I stopped. Midway didn’t even have a church. We did have a white cross though, on an edge of the island, overlooking the lagoon. . . Every Easter, the residents of Midway did gather at the cross at sunrise. Sometimes someone read from the Bible or said a few words. Usually we sang a hymn. This year I had slept in.. . I could bargain with God. Isn’t that what people did in these situations?” Robie decides she is too tired to plead her case, and God could make his own decision on what happens to her.
- When Robie is rescued and calls her mom, her mom says, “thank God.”