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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Mabel Robinson's delightful coming-of-age story won a Newbery Honor in 1938 and garnered extraordinary praise from critics and readers alike. Born and raised on Bright Island off the Maine coast, Thankful Curtis is more like her sea captain grandfather than any of her older brothers are. Nothing suits her better than sailing and helping her father with the farm. But when her dreaded sisters-in-…

Bright Island

by Mabel L. Robinson

Overall Book Review:

Initially published in 1937 and awarded with a Newbery Honor in 1938, Bright Island is a classic coming-of-age story that holds up wonderfully to this day. The plot is simple enough, with no major surprises, and the other major elements of the story – setting, character, and prose – are all relatively straightforward and unremarkable when examined individually. But the way Mabel L. Robinson combines them together leaves the reader with a gorgeous, moving tale that can be enjoyed over and over again. Scenes more important for character development than plot are often portrayed in a few swift sentences, focusing on the feel of the scene and the impression it leaves instead of the actual events. This gives the story an almost dreamlike quality in places, similar to actual memory; details can be hazy and the impact an event had on the characters is often more important than the event itself. This feeling combined with themes of growing up and finding yourself gives us a book that resonates deeply with modern readers. The main character, Thankful, has become so real to me that she could be my best friend – or even an alternate version of myself. Maine in the 1930s was almost a different world from the one most youth grow up today, but Bright Island is still intensely relatable. Of course, some expressions and cultural nuances haven’t carried over well from over 80 years ago, but the few occasions where this is noticeable aren’t enough to detract from the story in any way. A touching, beautiful read that will leave you emotionally satisfied.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 1 religious exclamation.

Violence/Gore: A character is disturbed by suicide seen in a film; characters experience a boating accident; a character is mildly hurt in an accident.

Sex/Nudity: The word “buxom” is used; a girl stands in her underthings; a teenage girl is described as wearing few clothes; girl tries on clothes in front of female relatives; a marriage proposal is made; a marriage proposal is implied; a character kisses another; a girl takes off clothes to swim alone; a boy kisses a girl and suggests they make out; a character proclaims love for another.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death of a family member; marriage; serious illness of a family member.

Alcohol/Drug Use:

A few instances of characters smoking pipes; mention of cigars.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I was homeschooled from kindergarten to grade 10, which gave me a love for reading. Growing up books were an integral part of my life, and I’ve always been able to make time to read. I’m most widely read in YA fiction, but fantasy is becoming my favorite genre. My free time not spent reading is mostly spent outdoors camping, riding a bicycle, or otherwise enjoying nature. I’m also a science nerd with a special interest in entomology.