The Salt Stained Book (Strong Winds series no.1)
by Jones, Julia
pub. by Golden Duck Ltd, Pleshey, near Chelmsford, Essex UK (www.golden-duck.co.uk), 2011 - isbn 978-1-899262-04-5 - b&w drawings at end of each chapter - diagrams - map - index - book has 274 p.
I read the Kindle edition downloaded from Amazon.com The map and some of the illustrations were not included in the Kindle edition. I would have been better served if the map had been included.
This book was written for the young adult market but can be appreciated by readers of all ages. The story starts out with a flashback which takes place during WWII in the Barents Sea, where a couple of brothers are serving on separate ships in the same convoy doing what I expect was the Murmansk Run. The connection of the rest of the story to this event is not made clear until nearly the end of the book.
The story jumps from WWII to what I expect is in the current time (the early years of the 2000 era). The grandmother who was the driving force in the little family dies and Skye the mom who is deaf and has always lived a very sheltered life is not prepared to live independently. The young man who is the protagonist in this story is properly named John Walker but is known as Donny (age 13). He finds a sealed stamped envelope prepared by his grandmother and addressed to her sister Ellen Walker (the great-aunt) which is to be mailed upon her death. Donny manages to mail the letter before the social service agency people can grab it, and the story begins to get underway. The great aunt, who lives in Shanghai, telegraphs back a cryptic note telling them that she is coming by sea and will arrive on a certain day, and to meet her at Shotley near Felixstow. This is much farther south in UK than where they are living so Skye and Donny head south in their vehicle. They are told to purchase a book which turns out to be The Swallows and Amazons by they do. An auto accident and Skyes reaction causes her to be taken to hospital, then a psychiatric hospital while Donny is put in a group home.
Through a series of adventures with difficult social service people, and luckily friendly school people Donny manages to eventually meet up with his great aunt Ellen... who has a very surprising alter-ego.
This is the first book of a trilogy, and I expect that the latter books will further explain some loose ends left at the end of this first book.
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