The trials and tribulations of a young girl searching for her mother are revealed in the poignant middle grade book, Hurricane Child, by Kacen Callender. The novel explores the inner thoughts of Caroline, a 12-year-old girl who develops a crush on her classmate while looking for her mother, who has gone missing.
Caroline Murphy lives on Water Island but goes to school in St. Thomas. Born during a hurricane and therefore considered unlucky for life, Caroline is teased by her classmates for that as well as the fact that she sees spirits. Further, her mother disappeared one day while she was at school. When a new student, Kalinda, joins the school, she and Caroline develop a friendship that grows into deeper feelings. Together, they search for Caroline’s mother during a hurricane, and Caroline faces taunts from her classmates when they find her secret love note to Kalinda.
I was amazed by Callender’s beautiful descriptions of Water Island and her evocative descriptions of a lonely girl searching for her mother. Readers can picture the beautiful island and also feel Caroline’s overwhelming sadness. Callender uses their own experiences to help other children recognize themselves in the diverse voices of her fiction. They write, “All my life, I’ve seen the things no one else can see. And if someone else can see them too… then maybe I’m not so alone after all. The idea of not being alone—of having someone who sees me, same way I see the things that no one else can see, makes me feel like I’m real. Like I deserve to exist on this planet alongside everyone else.” Callender also uses magical realism through the descriptions of the spirits of the island speaking to Caroline.
Callender was born and raised in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands. They also wrote the Boston Globe-Hornbook award-winning King and the Dragonflies, as well as the young adult novels This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story and Felix Ever After. Callender is the winner of the Stonewall Award from the ALA and the LAMDA literary award for Hurricane Child.