|Escape from Home
(Beyond the Western Sea, Book 1)
In 1851, Maura and Patrick O'Connell, driven from their Irish home by a cruel English landlord, join the landlord's younger son, Laurence Kirkle, fleeing an abusive family situation, on a journey that takes them to the port of Liverpool on the first step of their quest to reach America.
Behind the Book
Avi writes: In my visits to schools kids were telling me that they could and would read very long books on their own—this was before Harry Potter days—simply because they enjoyed Stephen King or Michael Crichton. That interested me and surprised their teachers. It told me that if I could write a story that was truly compelling, I could write a long book. As a model I chose the Victorian novel, a long book with many short chapters, with a story that all but compelled the readers to turn the pages so as to see what happened next. That’s how Beyond the Western Sea came to be. Unfortunately, it was decided to publish the one book into two volumes. That has confused some readers. But the two books: Beyond the Western Sea: Escape from home, and Beyond the Western Sea: Lord Kirkle’s Money, are really one book and can be enjoyed best if read that way.
Awards and Honors
Best books for Young Adults, ALA, 1997
“[A] … pulsing 1850s emigrant adventure… . packed with action and with a huge cast of villains and heroes… . Great for reading aloud, the vivid scenes and larger-than-life characters also lend themselves to readers' theater. The comedy is both grotesque and sinister. As in Dickens' works, coincidence is not just a plot surprise but a revelation that those who appear to be far apart—the powerful and the ‘failures’—are, in fact, intimately connected.”
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