Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Living Audio

The Living Audio

Matt de la Pena
For ages 13 and up
Unabridged audiobook (MP3 CD)
Performed/read by: Henry Layva
Brilliance Audio, 2015   ISBN: 978-1491544150

Summer jobs can be a drag, which is why Shy is pretty happy with the summer job he has managed to get. Shy works on luxury cruise ships that cater to the kind of people Shy has never really been around before. For the most part the guests are nice people, and they can be very generous tippers. On Shy’s last cruise things did not go so well. One of the passengers, a man called David Williamson, talked to Shy one night, tipped him well for his service and then jumped overboard. Shy tried to save the man, but David was just too heavy and he slipped out of Shy’s grasp.

   Though he is now on a new cruise with new passengers, Shy cannot seem to forget the experience. How does one forget seeing a suicide? Thankfully, he has Carmen, another young employee on the ship, who is a wonderful listener. Both of them recently lost family members to a deadly disease called Romero, and since they found out that they have this in common, Shy and Carmen have sought one another out for support and companionship.

   The journey to Hawaii is pretty uneventful until a storm slams into the ship. The passengers are gathered together in the muster stations when news comes through that “The Big One,” a massive earthquake, has caused widespread death and destruction up and down the west coast of the United States. Everyone on the ship is appalled at the news and many are worried about family members and friends who are living in the affected areas. Both Shy and Carmen’s families live near the Mexican border, which was been badly hit.

   Not long after it they hear the news, a pair of tsunamis hits the cruise ship, which is mortally damaged by the enormous waves. Shy is knocked out after the second wave hits the ship and when he comes to he is surrounded by death and destruction. Many of the passengers are dead or wounded. Shy knows that he has probably broken a rib or two. Shy and the other crew members get down to the business of getting as many of the passengers off the ship as they can. They don’t have much time. After the remaining life boats are loaded up they start using inflatable rafts and Shy ends up on one. Shy and the other survivors on the raft then find themselves face to face with another enormous wave. Shy has no choice but to dive under the roaring wave and he loses consciousness again.

   When Shy comes to he is alone in the ocean. He finds a badly damaged boat and manages to get in it. Later he finds a few other survivors, though some of them get attacked by sharks before he can rescue them. In the end Shy manages to save a girl called Addison and man who has a terrible shark bite on his leg. Shy has met Addison before and he is not in the least bit happy to see the bratty, arrogant rich girl who was incredibly rude to him the last time they spoke. Of course, dealing with a nasty girl is the least of Shy worries. They are alone in the middle of the ocean with very little water, no food, no shade, and no means of communication. They also have no idea where they are.

   In this gripping, often harrowing, story we meet a young man who, by sheer force of will, survives untold disasters. He learns that humans are capable of terrible selfishness and cruelty. What he doesn’t know is how he is going to counter this dark side of human kind. All he is sure of is that he has to do something.