Hannah forgot her inhaler today, again, which is annoying. But what is more annoying is that her mother continues to be overprotective and accuses her of irresponsibility anytime she forgets to bring it along. But Hannah is about to embark on her second babysitting job in their little Pelling island community, and that seems to be a good way to showcase her independence. She took the sitter course, after all, and it’s the first night she’ll watch Oscar and Zoe without their mom around. What the sitter course did not prepare her for, however, is the catastrophic earthquake that hits the island and the surrounding Seattle community, leaving her neighbor’s home destroyed and knocking out all communication options to the mainland — and to their parents or any adult help.
This is a pretty straightforward survival story, with the added tension of our young hero having asthma. It’s fast-paced and thick with tension, advancing the danger over four wrought days. Situations are aggravated both by the outside forces of the earthquake and aftershocks as well as Rebecca’s own inexperience and youth resulting in injury and inconvenience (though that is written in a sympathetic way, not a “you dumb kid” way). Honestly, this book gave me a lot of anxiety and I had to put it down every few chapters – it was very readable, but I also just needed to get to the “everything will be fine, right?” part.
It was interesting to read about how Rebecca’s asthma felt physically (and again, anxiety inducing). I also liked that we got a peek into her charge Zoe feeling echoes of Rebecca’s early frustrations: as Rebecca tries to protect her and Oscar from fear and worry, it gets in the way of things. Rebecca finds herself understanding her parents’ motivations more as Zoe’s frustration at being coddled and kept in the dark builds.
Anyway, I gotta go stock an emergency kit now. Ahem. I’d recommend this to older elementary and middle schoolers who like adventure stories but aren’t too sensitive to dire circumstances.