On the Rocks (Orca Currents)

Series: Orca Currents
Publication Date: 1 Apr. 2020
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9781459823648

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    Fourteen-year-old Dylan is sent to live with his estranged grandfather, Angus. Basically strangers, the two avoid each other as best they can. Dylan explores the island by himself, while his grandfather, a well-known artist, spends his day locked up in his studio.

    One day Dylan discovers a young orca stranded high up on the rocky beach. Dylan runs to tell his grandfather, but Angus says there's nothing that can be done. The sun is coming up, and soon the orca will die of exposure. But Dylan knows he has to try to save the whale. He collects towels to cover the delicate skin of the orca and begins transporting buckets of water from the ocean below to keep it hydrated. It's grueling work, and it will be hours before the tide comes back in and the water is high enough for the orca to swim free. Angus is moved by his grandson's determination and helps as best he can.

    They both desperately hope that soon the orca will be able to join its family, who have been calling out to it just offshore.

    Information

    Book Type: Junior Chapter
    Age Group: 10 years +
    Traffic Lights:
    Class Novel: No
    Good Reads Rating: /5
    Literary Rating: /5

    Review

    While his mum goes through an alcohol-abuse treatment program, Dylan is sent to live with his grandfather on the island for six weeks. Dylan is a stranger to his grandfather, who is a famous for his paintings and hot temper. Worse, there is no internet or phone service at his cabin.

    The tension between Dylan and his estranged grandfather is palpable. When they sit down for dinner, Dylan's grandfather discusses his bad relationship with Dylan's mum, and how Dylan's dad is responsible for her alcoholism and poverty. Dylan accuses his grandfather of never being there to help, and Dylan's grandfather agrees that Dylan would be better off spending six weeks in a foster home.

    After days of refusing to talk to his grandfather, Dylan is walking along the rocks when he comes across a stranded young orca. When Dylan asks his grandfather if there is anything they can do to help him get back to his pod, he says that help is too far away and the orca will soon die of sun exposure.

    Just as his grandfather is about to put the orca out of its misery, Dylan convinces his reluctant grandfather to drape wet sheets over its body to keep it from drying up. For hours Dylan and his grandfather bond as they pour water onto the orca's back. When the tide is high enough for the orca to break free, it returns to its pod and Dylan and his grandfather celebrate.

    Towards the end of his six-week stay, Dylan helps his grandfather set up an internet connection and phone service. When his mum finally arrives, Dylan suggests that they stay on the island for a bit longer so that his family can bond again.

    This story is a wholesome read that explores the awkwardness of reuniting with a distant relative. The convergence of Dylan's relationship with his family and the saving of the orca highlights the importance of faith in others and second chances.

    Themes


    Content Notes

    1. Vague discussion throughout of alcohol addiction and parental abandonment. 2. Dylan's grandfather recommends killing the orca (as an act of mercy) as he doesn't think they'll be able to save it (p. 78).

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