Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell, revolves around the story of Karana, a young girl living with the rest of her tribe on an island. The tribe takes a large hit after a battle with a group of Aleuts under the command of the Russian Captain Orlov, who initially landed on the island to strike a deal that would allow them to hunt sea otters.
After this bloody battle (which resulted in the death of Karana's father, Chief Chowig, and his subsequent replacement by Chief Kimki), white men arrive on the island and force the tribe to board boats that will take them away to the mainland. Karana's brother, Ramo, fails to get on the ship, and Karana takes a huge risk by leaving the boat to chase him down.
The boats depart, and Ramo is killed shortly thereafter by a pack of wild dogs. This leads to the largest conflict of the book: Karana is left completely alone on the island and must learn to fend for herself. This feat requires incredible adaptive abilities; Karana must learn to hunt and make weapons, canoes, and a home, while developing an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds her. The remainder of the novel traces Karana's evolution into adulthood and fully realized independence.