Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Blog Tour: Overboard by Elizabeth Fama
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway

Find the full tour schedule HERE

Overboard was first released in 2002, and it has been reissued in 2015 with a new cover. I'm a fan of Elizabeth Fama's books, having enjoyed both Monstrous Beauty and Plus One, so I was thrilled to get a copy of Overboard for review and to be asked to join the tour. This book is shorter and skews younger than Fama's other novels, but I was no less riveted. 

by Elizabeth Fama
Read: July 25 - 26, 2015
Published: June 9, 2015 by CreateSpace
Source: Copy from the author (Thank you!)
Category: MG/YA, survival stories, Sumatra 
Find: Goodreads | Amazon  | B&N

One moment of rashness, and fourteen-year-old Emily Slake finds herself amid hundreds of panicked and drowning people in the dark ocean waters off Sumatra. Miles from shore without a life vest, she resolves to survive. But in facing the dangers of the ocean, the desperation of her fellow survivors, and her own growing exhaustion, Emily must summon wits and endurance she's not sure she has. 

Striking out on her own, Emily encounters Isman, a frightened young Muslim boy, floating in a life vest. Together they swim for their lives, relying on Emily's physical strength and Isman's quiet faith.

Based on a true story, Overboard is both a riveting tale of survival and a sensitive portrayal of cross-cultural understanding in a time of crisis.

My Thoughts

In Overboard we meet 14 year old Emily, living in Banda Aceh on the island of Sumatra with her doctor parents. Although she tries to fit in, Emily is lonely and desperate for her home and friends in Boston. Angry and upset over something that goes wrong at her parents' clinic, Emily takes a ferry boat to visit her Uncle Matt on the small island of Weh, without telling her parents. Weh's not that far away and Emily's sure she'll arrive there in plenty of time for Matt to phone her mom and dad before they're done with work for the day. They're usually too busy to notice her anyway. But mid crossing the overloaded, patched boat sinks and Emily and hundreds of passengers are thrown into the sea as evening arrives. Without a life jacket, Emily fights to stay alive, swimming through the night and waiting for rescue boats that don't seem to ever come. 

Overboard is less than 200 pages but manages to be both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. I connected to Emily right away and was able to get a feel for her life in Banda Aceh, especially the injustices she feels of being stuck there with her do-gooder parents. Personal connection is essential to my enjoyment of a 
story, and I was right there with Emily all the way through this book as she faces a host of emotions from anger, sadness and despair to hope and determination (not necessarily in that order). Emily fights with the ocean and sometimes other people and must keep swimming or die, and it is harrowing and horrifying at times. But she also has time to reflect on her life and the world, and I loved the perspective and even growth she finds through this awful experience. I think Emily finds out that she's made of much tougher stuff than she ever imagined. 

When the ferry sank, Emily was plunged into the ocean with hundreds of other people and not enough life vests or rafts for all of them. Many couldn't swim or were loaded down with heavy clothing. Women and children appear to have even less of a chance than men, and I found the subtle commentary on gender relations in this culture to be very interesting. My favorite character that Emily encounters is Isman. He becomes her companion in the ocean and they each others' support system. Through her experience with him, Emily gains a deeper appreciation for the place she lives and it's people, and realizes that helping others might come more naturally to her than she thinks.  

When I finished Overboard, I did wish for a little bit more at the end. But the more I think about it, the more I appreciate exactly how the book concluded. I think this story works great for both middle grade and YA, and I could see it as part of a book group. Or actually, I just want to discuss the story and themes with other people. Although this book was written before the earthquake and tsunami that hit Banda Aceh in 2004, that event adds another layer of information to this story's setting. 

Love triangle factor: N/A no romance (
This book doesn't have any romance, and I still loved it, which means it must be good.) 
Cliffhanger Scale: standalone


Overboard Excerpt

"“You’re very strong,” Yaso said in his own language.

“Strong, like a bull.” She wrinkled her nose at him and made a snorting noise.

Yaso laughed and tried to snort like a bull himself.
“You are good.” She smiled.

“How old are you?” he asked.

“I am one hundred years old,” she said, sitting in the chair with a sigh. Emily had found that Indonesians often asked personal questions, and it wasn’t rude to give nonsensical, evasive answers.

“You speak Bahasa Indonesia well,” the boy said.

“That is because I have lived here for too long.”

“I know you. You’re the doctor’s daughter. You help in the clinic, like that boy, Madjid.”


About Elizabeth Fama

Plus One was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in April, 2014. A 2015 RITA award finalist, Plus One was also a highlighted book in VOYA magazine, and was listed among the "Top 12 Young Adult Books of 2014" in the Huffington Post. 

Monstrous Beauty, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in September, 2012. It won won the 2013 Odyssey Honor Award, and was included on the 2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults list and the 2013 YALSA Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults list.

My first novel, Overboard (Cricket Books, 2002), was named a 2003 Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association (one of only eleven books selected unanimously by the committee that year). It received the 2002-2003 honor award from the Society of Midland Authors, and it was nominated for five state readers' choice awards (New Hampshire, Texas, Illinois, Utah, and Florida).

Find Elizabeth Fama online: Website | Twitter | Tumblr



Win a paperback of Overboard
(open internationally!)
OR Click HERE for a link to the giveaway 


  1. I definitely missed this one from Fama's backlog (still have yet to pick up Monstrous Beauty, actually...oops!) so I'm thrilled you reviewed this, Lauren! I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it and I'm always on the lookout for fabulous novels that don't feature a romance yet feature other important facets, like diversity, so I plan to read this very, very soon. Fantastic review, dear!(:

    P.S. -- I read BURN and looooved it! We should compare thoughts because I'd love to hear what you thought of a lot of the reveals and what-not!

  2. Yaaaay :D Gorgeous post Lauren. <3 I really liked this book too. It was four stars for me :) I also wanted the ending to be a bit longer ;p but it was awesome even so :D Stunning review. <3 So glad you liked it. Thank you for sharing sweetie :) I also picked that excerpt, lol ;p

  3. I'm anxious to read this one! I have a copy myself and I keep staring at it in my stacks. I think my girls would really like it too, so I think we'll pass this one around the house and have discussion about it. Great review, Lauren (:


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