Book Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins (Island of the Blue Dolphins, #1)Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Every now and then I like to go read something from a while ago. Something that’s not new at all, though it’s new to me. I’d heard about Island of the Blue Dolphins growing up. I remember seeing it on the shelf in my school’s library, though I always avoided it. It looked far too much like a dreaded “girl book,” and it definitely wasn’t fantasy, so why bother?

Of course, now that I’m older, other things catch my interest. Things like “Scott O’Dell” and “Newbery Winner,” along with a slew of other awards. So when it went on sale for Kindle a while ago, I snatched up a copy, and I was able to read it last week.

What a great novel. It tells the story of a young girl on an island in the Pacific. Her life is turned upside down when her island encounters seal hunters from a distant land. I’d say more about the plot, but honestly one of the things that attracted me most to the story was how it kept doing things I didn’t expect. A bit of the way in, I assumed this would be a “slice of life” story, and so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned a different way. More assumptions followed that turn, and they were once again foiled. Always nice when that happens. In this case, a clear advantage to reading the book electronically and having just heard of it through vague memories. I knew the title, the author, and that’s it. No reading the jacket or book blurbs.

It isn’t terribly long (184 pages), but it’s well written, with the good historical details you expect from O’Dell. I was even more pleased to find out it’s based on a true account.

Would I have liked the book if I’d picked it up and read it back in grade school? Probably not. But I loved it now, and I’m going to point my 9 year old daughter in its direction (as soon as she finishes the Percy Jackson series, which she’s devouring at the moment.)

Highly recommended.

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