Sarah's Stars

Karen Autio. Second Watch
SonoNis $9.95  ISBN 978-1-55039-151-0  199 pg.
Reviewed by Anika, Age 11

In the throes of fever, I pictured Mama either stepping into a lifeboat unharmed or screaming as she drowned. I didn't know what was real. When I did wake up enough to feel the pain of my injuries, I was terrified to return to my nightmares.  

Saara Maki is a Finnish girl who has lived her whole life in Port Arthur. She longs to visit her family in Finland, but her father is dead against it. Her best friend Helena suggests she tries to get tickets onto the Empress of Ireland. Little does Saara know that the worst Canadian peacetime marine disaster was about to hit her and her family. What happened on Friday, May 29th, 1914, will always be a part of important Canadian history. What happened to Saara will always stick with her.

I'd definitely recommend this book for ages 8 and up. It was somewhat simple, but I think it would be a challenging read for any eight-year-old. Karen Autio was born in Fort William, which is now a part of Thunder Bay. Karen started writing stories at age nine just so she could illustrate them. Her favorite books as a kid were Dr Seuss beginner books, Black Beauty, Album of Horses, Hardy Boys and the Black Stallion. She has also written Saara's Passage (the sequel to Second Watch) and is currently writing another book.

I found that Second Watch started off really slow and seemed repetitive. It didn't get exciting until Chapter 8. She did nothing but the same things over and over again, such as raising money. One of the more minor characters, Senja, isn't very real. She is too shallow at times. Other than that this was a gripping, exciting and wonderful read. The description was absolutely amazing, and Saara didn't always know what to do in a dilemma, which makes her even more real. The characters were a heartwarming bunch, and seemed to love each other dearly. Other than Senja they were all very real, very believable. I never knew when Saara was going to say something silly, or something that was really smart. Everything leads to something else; you could say it flows. It was a good read in the end, although I almost didn't make it to Chapter 8.

I give Second Watch 4 stars.        

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