Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender is a touching juvenile fiction novel that deals with first love, grief and self-discovery and there are a lot of supernatural and magical elements that are embedded within it.
Caroline Murphy was born during a hurricane.
Everyone in the Caribbean believes that a child who is born during a hurricane will be plagued with bad luck for their entire lives and Caroline has been dealing with enough personal disasters over the past few months to last a lifetime. No one at her school likes her—not even her teacher and she doesn’t have any friends to confide in. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s this spirit that keeps following her everywhere she goes and one day Caroline’s mother disappeared from her life without a trace and she never returned.
Caroline’s bad luck takes a turn for the better when Kalinda becomes the newest student at the small school in St. Thomas. Even though Kalinda is far away from her beloved homeland, Barbados, she always has a special smile for everyone. Her presence at the school has brought a light into Caroline’s dark world and she becomes Caroline’s first and only friend—and she’s the first person that Caroline has ever had a crush on.
Will Caroline be able to come to terms with the intense feelings she has for Kalinda? Will she be brave enough to find out why a particular spirit continues to follow her on St. Thomas and on Water Island? More importantly, will she be able to deal with the real reason why her mother had left her?
Caroline Murphy lives on Water Island and she thinks that she is cursed with bad luck because she was born during a hurricane. Kalinda Francis has just arrived in St. Thomas and she is a new student at the small school that Caroline attends. Caroline is feisty and plain-talking but she is also a very lonely little girl because she didn’t have any friends at her school until Kalinda came along. Kalinda is serious, reserved, down-to-earth and she is wise beyond her years. I just wanted to give these precious girls the biggest and mushiest hugs ever because they’ve been through so many heartbreaking situations and they are still learning a lot about themselves and how to deal with the painful challenges that go hand in hand with living.
The Writing Style
Kacen Callender has completely blown my mind with their flawless writing and I can’t believe this is their debut novel. I am totally enamoured with the beautiful descriptions of St. Thomas and Water Island and I am sorely tempted to visit these lovely islands one day and see every landmark with my own eyes. Even though this story was told through Caroline’s point of view, I did not feel as though it was one-sided at all because Kalinda’s personality was bold, unique and completely authentic and I could easily relate to the other characters. This author definitely deserves the highest of fives for creating such an unforgettable and moving story!
My Favourite Parts
I don’t think there’s anything that can beat seeing the world through the eyes of a child and I got to live vicariously through little Caroline Murphy. I got to tag along with Caroline as she searched for clues about where her mother could possibly be and I also felt like I was right there by her side when she experienced her first crush on her only friend, Kalinda. There are so many things that I loved about this story but what I loved the most were the magical moments when the spirits would suddenly show up and having unlimited access to Caroline’s conflicting thoughts and emotions.
You won’t get any complaints from me!
Normally, I wouldn’t read middle-grade or juvenile fiction but the awesome and vibrant book cover snagged my attention from the first glance and after reading the first paragraph… let’s just say that I was well and truly hooked on this story. If you’re a huge fan of books with magical realism and powerful supernatural elements coupled with precocious preteens who are trying to figure out how they should deal with the unexpected and deep connection they share, then this is definitely the story for you!
Excerpt from Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender
Kalinda Francis sits with Anise and Marie Antoinette every day for one week, and for one week every day I sit in the corner and watch as everyone gathers around the table, peasants begging for scraps from the queens. Except now, it’s not clear who the queen is anymore. Is it Anise, sitting tall like always, yelling at anyone who gets too close? No, I think it’s obvious to everyone that it’s now Kalinda, who never laughs loud like the others around her but always has a special smile for everyone—a smile made and catered for each different person, the way fingerprints are different for all of us. For Anise, it’s a smile that barely turns up the corners of her lips so it’s more like a blank stare. For Marie Antoinette, it’s a big smile that shows all her white teeth. For me, she gives a close-mouthed secretive smile, like she means for me to find her one day after school and ask her what it is she wants to tell me. Maybe she does. She looks up at me and smiles, then looks away again—but something catches her eye.
I turn my head to see what she’s looking at—and there, in the corner of the cafeteria, stands a white woman in her nightgown, looking at Kalinda. She’s gone before my gaze can even settle on her, and I would think it was just my mind playing tricks—but when I turn to look at Kalinda, she’s watching me again—squinting her eyes, confused, but still smiling.
I start to make eye contact with her everywhere—in the halls, in class whenever she turns around and feels my eyes on her, even through the crowds of curly heads in the cafeteria. She never seems upset to catch me staring. She only ever has the same secretive smile. And now there’s a question there, a question she has for me. It’s probably the same thing I want to know from her.
Can you see the things that no one else can see too?
I could ask her. I could walk right up to her and ask if she really did—if she saw the spirit of that woman. But I’d have to ask this in front of Anise and Marie Antoinette, and if I’m wrong, and Kalinda only screws up her face at me in confusion, I know I’ll never hear the end of it. Anise would never let anyone forget how Caroline Murphy is as crazy as she is evil, and there’s not much else worse in the world than a crazy, evil girl. Any chance I’d have of speaking to Kalinda ever again would be wiped clean from existence.
But I have to know. 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. That I get to be here because there’s someone else who wants me here too. It’s the difference of being invited directly to a birthday party instead of someone being forced to hand me an invitation, same way Anise Fowler was once forced to give me an invitation to her party but whispered that if I actually came, no one would really want me there.
If Kalinda Francis can see the things no one else can see, then I need to know.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781338129328
- Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
- Kacen Callender Online
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