Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The Island Keeper is a study in physical and personal survival. Cleo learns through her experiences as a runaway that her problems, both perceived and real, can be understood and solved only by her; the behavior of others cannot be controlled. The adventure is experienced entirely from Cleo’s point of view, with past events emerging through imaginary scenes and dialogue with family members. Reader interest is captured on the first page: As she boards an airplane, Cleo is reminded that “time heals all wounds,” even those of “recent tragic events.” Readers also learn that Cleo is unhappy with herself; she has poured perfume all over her body and hates the way that she smells. In addition, “She tried to pretend she wasn’t fat and even if she was it didn’t matter.”

Sixteen-year-old Cleo Murphy comes from a wealthy family, but it is also a family confronted with tragedy and distanced by a failure to communicate effectively. The present family consists of Cleo, her seemingly uncaring father, and her highly critical grandmother. Her mother was killed in a car crash, and her beloved younger sister, Jam, has recently died in a boating accident.

Unable to relate to her family and unwilling to spend the summer at camp, Cleo runs away to a Canadian island, owned by her father, where she and her sister spent happy times. Armed only with some cash and without a plan, Cleo buys camping equipment and food supplies, steals a canoe...

(The entire section is 525 words.)