6th August 2015, Chicken House, 240 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Content: island life, storms, horses, danger, tissues needed
Summary from Chicken House
With his mother missing and his father dead, 12-year-old Flip’s new home is a remote storm-tossed Dutch island.
Menaced by the local bullies and with a shadowy mute girl as his only friend, Flip tries to adapt to life on his uncle’s farm – but his whole life changes when a sunken transport ship leaves a drowning gelding floundering in the waves. Risking his life to rescue it, Flip is told he can keep the troublesome horse if he can teach it how to work for its keep ...
Wow. Just wow. Regular readers know how much I prefer the main character to be female. From the summary I was really only interested in the Ghost Girl (as the mute girl gets called), but from the first paragraph I was hooked on Flip's story too. I got tearful on more than one occasion for all that Flip suffers. People that young shouldn't have to go through that loss. Taking care of Storm changes Flip's life. It gives him something to focus on while working through his grief, and the turmoil of emotions surrounding his missing mother.
Typically it isn't an easy ride - it's not just the bullies. Storm is far from a perfect horse (not his fault), and more than once Flip gets in trouble and nearly loses Storm for good. The ending is beyond happy, it really is. I'm so lucky I could read this in one sitting, there's drama in almost every chapter - the happy ones are a pleasure to read, with the others putting me on the edge of my seat because it felt like there was no way out other than the awful outcome which Flip thought would happen for each of the various scenarios, Storm ends up loving him, pulling him through and out from the hard times, helping him to forge bonds in his new life, and building bridges with Ghost Girl which will prove vital by the end. His grouchy uncle isn't all that bad, his aunt is wonderful to Flip, and his cousin is a sweetie who I loved to spend page time with.
I'll be lending this to a friend, and can't wait to reread it! Psst, I'd really like a sequel too!
Available from bookstores including NRC affiliate Foyles.
For more horse stories featuring boys as the main characters check out a series by Victoria Eveleigh, starting with Joe and the Hidden Horseshoe (Children's, 9 years +, 10/10E)