I picked up this book because it ranks so high on young adult fiction lists, and because so many now-adults from English-speaking countries look back on this book so romantically. I am not from an English-speaking country, and the books that shaped my youth are different. But I really wanted to read this one, even if it wouldn’t induce me with any nostalgia.
But without the nostalgia, what is there? It’s not the plot. The story is extremely predictable (and if it wasn’t, it gets all spoiled on the back cover as well as in the introduction). I guess if you’ve read one book about surviving on an island or in a forest, you’ve read them all. Neither is this a great coming-of-age book (I do wonder if Scott O’Dell could have written that from the point of view of a young girl). Nor are there loads of dialogues or memorable quotes (although I did learn the words for abalone and sinew).
And yet I loved reading Island of the Blue Dolphins. It’s a great little book with flowing language. And for almost 180 pages, we live inside the mind of Karana, and we see the island through her eyes. She takes us on this journey to the beach, the plateau, caves and the water around the island. And her discoveries are ours.