JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA Book Review by Payal Doshi


Meet Josephine, the most loveable mischief-maker in Barbados, in a magical, heartfelt adventure inspired by Caribbean mythology.


Eleven-year-old Josephine knows that no one is good enough for her daddy. That's why she makes a habit of scaring his new girlfriends away. She's desperate to make it onto her school's cricket team because she'll get to play her favorite sport AND use the cricket matches to distract Daddy from dating.


But when Coach Broomes announces that girls can't try out for the team, the frustrated Josephine cuts into a powerful silk cotton tree and accidentally summons a bigger problem into her life . . .


The next day, Daddy brings home a new catch, a beautiful woman named Mariss. And unlike the other girlfriends, this one doesn't scare easily. Josephine knows there's something fishy about Mariss but she never expected her to be a vengeful sea spirit eager to take her place as her father's first love! Can Josephine convince her friends to help her and use her cricket skills to save Daddy from Mariss's clutches before it's too late?



About the Author

Shakirah Bourne is a Barbadian author, filmmaker, and lover of ripe mangoes. She has written and produced four movies, including a comedy that she filmed during an earthquake and in a cave with bats.

She currently resides in Barbados, where she spends way too much time daydreaming and looking out at the sea.

Twitter: @shakirahwrites



Review by Payal Doshi

Shakirah Bourne’s Josephine Against the Sea is a marvelous adventure inspired by Caribbean mythology led by a spunky and lovable heroine, 11-year-old Josephine Cadogan. Josephine has two missions. One is to get on her school’s cricket team so she can meet the West Indies team and reignite her father’s love for cricket which he has lost after her mum died. And two is to make sure none of her father’s lady friends turn into girlfriends because according to Josephine, it’s pretty simple: All she and her dad need are each other and their love for cricket.


But a plot twist ensues! Ever since the day her father, a fisherman, returns home with a bejeweled comb caught in his fishing net, his luck changes for the better. And then, enters Mariss, a strange, alluring, and seemingly devious woman who has her father wrapped around her finger and is immune to all of Josephine’s tricks to keep her away from him. Josephine knows in her gut that Mariss is not who she says she is as odd things start to occur around her and much to Josephine’s dismay, the town seems completely oblivious to it while her father is quickly falling under her spell. As Josephine begins her own investigation into who Mariss truly is, we enter into the rich world of Caribbean folklore and dive into sea sprits of the underwater kingdom, mermaids with mind control abilities, shape-shifting snakes, and go on a treacherous journey with Josephine into the sea for a fighting chance to save her father.


Apart from the plot which fast paced and riveting, Bourne has created a triumphant character in Josephine. From the very first sentence in the book, “It’s 4:58 p.m. and Daddy still isn’t back from his date. I should have never allowed him to leave home,” the reader instantly taps into Josephine’s personality and loves her for it. The love for her dad and the jealously she has against any potential ‘girlfriend’ who she feels will replace her mother is heartwarming to read. Bourne adds humor to it as well with Josephine’s straight-shooting thoughts and commentary which not only lends a lightness to the more beautiful and poignant moments but also had me laughing out loud several times! However, the real adventure and the full force of Josephine’s personality come through as she begins her search for answers about Mariss and has to come up with creative ways to overcome the obstacles that thwart her at every step. You can’t help rooting for Josephine.


From vivid prose and hilarious one-liners like “Nice teachers don’t teach fractions on the first day of school’ and ‘I’m deathly allergic to being caught red-handed,’ to learning about duppies and River Mummas and reading about cricket terminologies like the Mexican wave and Howzat, this book was an absolute joy to read. As a cricket fan myself, you don’t get to read about cricket in too many books, not to mention a girl who is talented in the game. And I’m here for it!


But Bourne’s biggest strength lies in the characters she creates, and it is clear she spent time to develop the secondary characters as well—Miss Alleyne, Miss Mo (whose weird traditions and superstitions had me tickled!), Josephine’s father, and my favorite, Josephine’s best friend, Akhai—since they remain with you long after you’ve read the book. Ahkai is autistic and Bourne has woven that part of his personality effortlessly into his character. There is a sentence that informs readers that Ahkai is autistic, and I can argue few people could have done it better. In the book, Josephine thinks to herself, “He’s on the—what’s it called again? It reminds me of something wonderful—Awesome, Rhythm, Autism! That’s it. He’s on the autism spectrum, and I am one of the few people Akhai utters a word to.” A special shout out to Mr. Pimples, the angelfish, and the rickety, old Jalopy who make for memorable side characters as well!


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Payal Doshi has a Masters in Creative Writing (Fiction) from The New School, New York. She was born and raised in Mumbai, India, and currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and two-year-old daughter. She loves the smell of old, yellowed books. Rea and the Blood of the Nectar, the first book in the Chronicles of Astranthia series is her debut middle grade novel. ​Twitter: @payaldwrites Instagram: @payaldoshiauthor Website: www.payaldoshiauthor.com