Friday, September 07, 2018

Review: When the Sea Turned to Silver

When the Sea Turned to Silver, by Grace Lin is a story about stories told by a storyteller through a series of stories. If that sounds confusing, that's because it is. In fact, it's one of the few audio books I can recall wishing I'd consumed in book form. The production of the audio book is great, but a proper book would have let me flip back to previous chapters with ease. Still, any confusion in the book is more than washed away by a wonderful story, with wonderful characters told in a clever way.

As we approach the High Holiday season in the Jewish calendar, I can't help but see some similarities between Lin's approach to stories and that of my own tradition. Stories in Lin's world aren't just about entertainment, they're about passing down values, memories and providing inspiration. They highlight how a story that contains the super natural need not require the listener to believe the account is literal to believe it contains truth. Or as Grandpa Irv (Z"L) would have put more succinctly: never ruin a good story with the truth. Stories have real power, as does anyone who can recount them and remember them.

I found Lin's main character, Pinmei, to be a joy to root for. The book's pacing of her growth is spot on, and she's an excellent role model for all who are reading along. Her message may be simple: stepping out of your comfort zone is hard, but the reward is often great, but regardless of your age, this is easier said than done.

Overall, When The Sea Turned to Silver is a real gem. The characters and their adventures make for a great story, and the novel approach in which in which its recounted only makes it that much more enjoyable.

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