Michaela Dunn dreams of getting into an art school, but when her stepfather refuses to fund a trip there for a poetry workshop, Michaela enters a local contest searching for a poet to write the dedication plaque for a statue honoring Captain Benjamin Churchill, a whaler who died at sea over one hundred years ago. While searching for clues about this Cape Cod legend, Michaela discovers the diary of Leta Townsend from 1862 and gets a glimpse of Churchill that she didn't quite anticipate.
In 1862, Leta writes poetry under the name of Benjamin Churchill, thinking him dead after being attacked by a whale. Leta is astonished when Captain Churchill returns, completely unscathed, his death just a rumor. She quickly falls for him. But is she falling for the actual Benjamin Churchill, or the boy she constructed in her imagination?
About the Author
Erica George is a writer of young adult fiction. She is a graduate of The College of New Jersey with degrees in both English and education, and is currently an MFA student at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She resides in scenic Hunterdon County, New Jersey, but spends her summers soaking up the salty sea air on Cape Cod.
Many themes in Erica’s writing rotate around environmental activism and helping young people find their voice. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring, whale watching, or engrossed in quality British drama with her dog at her side. Words Composed of Sea and Sky is her debut young adult novel.
Micahela Dunn dreams of studying poetry at Winslow College, so when she discovers a summer workshop hosted on campus, it seems like the perfect opportunity to travel, study her craft, and learn from the best of the best. The only problem? A steep price tag that her stepfather doesn’t want to pay—though he has no problem paying for her half-sister’s summer camp. The frustration Michaela experiences at the small injustices in her world whisked me back to high school when so many teenagers are yearning for independence and creative freedom, but remain tied to a million responsibilities at home. Luckily for Michaela—and the reader!—she finds a poetry contest in her beautiful hometown on Cape Cod. Even better? Whoever pens the best poem about mysterious ship captain, Benjamin Churchill, wins a free trip to the coveted summer workshop! As she dives into researching the past, the book branches into two timelines—one following Michaela in the present day, and a second chronicling the experiences of Leta Townsend in 1862.
The weaving together of these two storylines is artfully done throughout the novel. At the outset, the two timelines seem disparate. Michaela and Leta are both poets—though Leta has found success in publishing under a man’s name (it is 1862, after all)—who reside in gorgeous beachside communities, but their fears and anxieties seem worlds apart. Until not one, not two, not three…but FOUR handsome lads enter the story. (Across both timelines, but still. Four attractive guys in a YA novel must be some kind of record.) Soon, both young women find themselves entangled in love triangles, and Michaela’s research causes her to stumble upon more and more unexpected revelations. What begins as two separate stories evolves into something much more nuanced and beautiful.
If you’re looking for characters who are flawed in the best ways, genuinely relatable, and effortlessly funny, this is the book for you! The characters are flawed in the best ways, genuinely relatable, and effortlessly funny on occasion. And a lovely bonus—the setting is absolutely gorgeous! You will quickly wish you were reading this book next to a lighthouse while eating a lobster roll instead of in your very messy bedroom. Words Composed of Sea and Sky is a must-read historical romance for summer! (Plus there’s a vengeful whale, so I’m not sure what else you could possibly want.)
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Kalena Miller is a teacher, editor, and writer of books for children and young adults. She studied Religion and Gender Studies at Carleton College before receiving a Masters in Creative Writing from Hamline University. She currently lives in Hopkins, Minnesota with her husband and lovable, if slightly neurotic, dog. Website: www.kalenamiller.com Twitter: @itskalenamiller Instagram: @itskalenamiller