Stowaway, by Pam Withers (2018)

Stowaway, by Pam WithersWhen Owen’s parents leave town for a conference, the 16-year-old promises to manage the family marina, located on a northern Gulf Island off the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Owen hates life on the island; it’s boring, he has no friends, and he resents his parents’ decision to move there from Ontario after a serious incident involving his brother, missing from the picture though we don’t know why. When a storm blows in, bringing a gorgeous yacht to the marina for refuge and supplies, Owen decides to stow away for a joyride. When he reveals himself to the captain and his Guatemalan “nephew” Arturo, he soon realizes he made a potentially fatal mistake, as he discovers the yacht is being used for human smuggling. He and Arturo must work together, but can they trust each other? Withers is known for her exciting extreme sports adventure stories, well researched and full of exciting tension and danger. This hits all the marks – an interesting and informative read, with deadly danger in the form of storms, guns, and more as Arturo and Owen face a number of moral decisions. The story is told in alternating first-person voice, with both Arturo and Owen giving their perspectives. This helps young readers better understand the issues, and increases the narrative tension as we witness each boy struggle with competing motivations, and balances what could have been dismissed as a white boy’s story. Fast and exciting, its message of compassion and friendship will resonate with young readers. The book is being published this week; my thanks to Dundurn Press for the advance reading copy provided digitally through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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