Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Journal of Brian Doyle: A Greenhorn on an Alaskan Whaling Ship

The Journal of Brian Doyle: A Greenhorn on an Alaskan Whaling Ship

Jim Murphy
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic, 2004   ISBN: 978-0439078146

Brian may have thought that running away from home and going to sea was the answer to all his problems and certainly he no longer has to tolerate his father?s abuse. However, he now has a whole new set of problems and they were often almost overwhelming in nature. For now Brian has to deal with not just one forceful and difficult man but practically a whole ship full of such men. Not surprisingly personalities clash frequently when men are confined in such a small space and for such long periods of time, but then Brian also forms friendships which support him through ordeals that lie ahead of him.

It soon becomes very clear that whaling is not an exact science and the ship has a great deal of difficulty finding any of the great mammals to kill and process. Without whales the ship makes no money and soon there is a palpable tension on board. The inadequacies of the Captain do not help the situation and Brian must surely be wondering if a mutiny is in the offing.

The last straw is when the ship heads north in search of whales. It is not a good time to be making such a trip and before long "The Florence" is trapped in the ice. Brian and his shipmates have to leave their vessel or risk being crushed by the ice.

What follows is a journey filled with suffering, great courage, and much self-discovery on Brian's part. It turns out that he is not at all the young man his father seemed to think he is. There is much more to Brian Doyle than meets the eye and he becomes a person to watch and respect.