Lost in the River of Grass – Ginny Rorby

Publisher:  Carolrhoda Books
Pages: 255
Source:  Received a review copy from NetGalley
Genre:  YA, Realistic Fiction, Adventure
From Amazon:
I don’t realize I’m crying until he glances at me. For a moment, I see the look of anguish in his eyes, and then he blinks it away and slips off into the water. I immediately think of the gator. It’s still down there somewhere. . . .”
A science-class field trip to the Everglades is supposed to be fun, but Sarah’s new at Glades Academy, and her fellow freshmen aren’t exactly making her feel welcome. When an opportunity for an unauthorized side trip on an airboat presents itself, it seems like a perfect escape–an afternoon without feeling like a sore thumb. But one simple oversight turns a joyride into a race for survival across the river of grass. Sarah will have to count on her instincts–and a guy she barely knows–if they have any hope of making it back alive.
My Review:
Ginny Rorby has crafted a story that will catch the attention of the most reluctant reader and hold them until the end.  When a student feels out of place by her classmates while on a field trip, she makes a decision that could have devastating consequences.  Upon entering the Everglades with her class, her immediate thoughts are how desolate and ugly it is.  Her science teacher’s hope is that his students will come to love the Everglades as much as he does.  As Sarah and her new friend Andy do their best to survive and walk out of the Everglades Sarah discovers a beauty that she had not seen before. 
This story resonated with me so much.  Since I live about two and a half hours north of the Everglades I have had the opportunity to visit many times.  My first trip through, I was terrifying.  I thought only of the alligators that filled the canals on each side of the highway.  I wanted only to take an airboat ride because it looked like fun.  I actually took two rides on that trip.  The first was a fast paced jaunt through the saw grass.  We went so fast I couldn’t focus on anything.  My next ride was with a group who really cared about teaching people about the Everglades.  We would go a few feet and he would point out birds and flowers.  I saw such a raw beauty.  I’ve walked through some of the swamp.  Now before you think I have totally lost it let me say that I am not sure I would survive on my own if lost in the Everglades.  There are so many dangers.  This book was spot on when it came to pointing out the various dangers.  The research was very accurate when it came to survival tips as well.  This is one book I think every school in Florida should have on their shelves.  My reasons go beyond the lessons to be learned about the Everglades.  The story has an underlying theme about fitting in and being different.  I think it is something every child could identify with.  I will proudly promote this to my students this next year.
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