Strong Like the Sea

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Pub Date 25 May 2021 | Archive Date 30 Jun 2021

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Description

Even though twelve-year-old Alexis was born in Hawaii, she won’t surf or swim with her friends—not since the ocean and its hidden creatures swept her out to sea. Instead, she grabs her best detective hat and decodes her mom’s latest challenge.

Alex’s mom works in counterintelligence and leaves codes, ciphers, and puzzles behind for Alex to solve, always with a “treasure” at the end. It’s a brilliant game between them, and Alex loves figuring out her mom’s puzzles—especially the tricky ones—but when an emergency at sea puts her mom in possible danger, solving the next one suddenly feels far more urgent.

Friends help as Alex races to decipher each clue before time runs out, but when the trail leads to grumpy old Uncle, his enormous dog Sarge, and a sea turtle unlike any other, the challenge changes into something bigger than any before. With storms on the horizon and lives on the line, Alex must face her fears to solve Mom’s challenge and save those she loves. With her ohana to help, she must be strong like the sea.
 
Featuring a secret ocean code with a hidden message for YOU to decipher!
 

Even though twelve-year-old Alexis was born in Hawaii, she won’t surf or swim with her friends—not since the ocean and its hidden creatures swept her out to sea. Instead, she grabs her best detective...


Advance Praise

"Swore packs this story about a curious, competitive girl full of moving themes and vivid imagery. Alex's resiliency, strong mindedness, and intelligence carries her through her worries. Swore's descriptions of Alex's anxieties ring true, and elements of mystery, ecology, and personal growth give this tightly constructed novel plenty of appeal."-Booklist

"Swore packs this story about a curious, competitive girl full of moving themes and vivid imagery. Alex's resiliency, strong mindedness, and intelligence carries her through her worries. Swore's...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781629729022
PRICE $16.99 (USD)
PAGES 304

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Average rating from 39 members


Featured Reviews

My son and I enjoyed this lovely story. There were lots of different themes and story lines to keep a variety of readers with a huge selection of interests enthralled. It was well written and well thought out. We got great enjoyment from the idea of Alex's mum working on a submarine in the navy as we love puzzles and mysteries that need to be solved. Sarge sounded adorable, as did the rescued sea turtle. And we also want to visit Hawaii now. There was plenty here to keep any reader engaged. It will be feature on my classroom library shelf as soon as I return to the classroom.

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This was absolutely lovely. There are themes of family, friendship, and overcoming fear. The plot was well-paced with intriguing characters. My children all enjoyed this as we read aloud. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy.

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Alex is a bright and precocious character. She is struggling to find where she belongs as most do at the age of 12. She has a great group of friends and an Ohana that gives her support and strength.

I have never visited Hawaii and haven't had more than a passing desire to do so, however, this book opened up a whole world of the islands that caused me to want to visit. I love the relationships in this book and the attention of dealing with true to life situations such as a parent traveling for work, friends that are overscheduled, and considering the feelings of others. There are lessons on prioritizing tasks and learning patience.

I loved this story. The puzzles and codes were fascinating in the way they were presented, as well as information about code breakers.

At the heart of this story was building relationships, with family and with friends, it was prioritizing people and knowing what was most important.

Even through her mom traveling for work, I could see her mother's touch and importance in the family. I liked the concept of Talk Story where they took Alex aside and gave her a safe way to approach her feelings. I appreciated the adults that took her aside sharing their own vulnerabilities in order to help her process what she was feeling and why she would do what she did. It was important that they valued what she felt and what she had to say even when she didn't understand it herself.

The writing was strong, the characters were fantastic and well developed. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the subject matter. I have been pleased with the books I have read by this author. The focus is on real life situations and how they are viewed through the eyes of the child. It gives me as a parent a different look at how a child might see a situation that we see as "grown up" and gives me pause how to better handle a similar situation.

I received an early copy from the publisher and this is my honest review.

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A richly embroidered cast of multi-generational characters, a thoughtful exploration of our oceans, and the true meaning of family all combine to make this a thoroughly satisfying heartfelt story. Island life in Hawaii is beautifully depicted—not the island of tourists but the one of year-round residents—as is the sometimes-sharp contrast between residents and holiday visitors. Swore has crafted another gentle, moving tale of the value of family, the importance of environmental conservation, and finding the strength to overcomes ones fears.

This book is a solid addition to middle grade collections with its themes of perseverance, family, friendship, and environmental conservation. The puzzles and codes left behind by Alex’s mother will keep readers turning the pages to see what mystery is finally revealed.

Suited for grades 4-8
Thank you to Shadow Mountain press for the ARC.

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Strong Like the Sea by Wendy Swore was an enjoyable book to read. Beautiful cover. Solidly written and well-developed characters.

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This is a well written book that will keep you turning the pages to see what happens next. I loved the characters, the scenery and everything about this book. This book would be a wonderful addition to school library.
Thank you Shadow Mountain Publishing via NetGalley for the ARC copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

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This is the story of a girl living in Hawaii with her mother and father. It puts you right in the midst of local Hawaiian culture and colloquialism, which was fun. It does offer a glossary in the back defining many of these unfamiliar (to mainlanders) words. Personally, I think it could have benefited from adding pronunciation guides as well.

This cute book has a lot going for it. It is well written. The setting is descriptive and fun. The characters are well drawn. And the themes are fantastic. I enjoyed all the codes our little heroine must crack. This did drag for me a bit, which I think is because there is just so much going on for one novel. I felt overwhelmed for this poor girl with so much to deal with in her young life, much of which seemed to be pressures put on her by the adults in her life. Perhaps that is realistic for many young people these days.

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From the very beginning, and throughout the story, I was struck by the atmospheric setting. Hawaii came to life, to the extent that it almost felt like another main character: the language, the food, the flora and fauna, the sea and shore, the cultural practices and beliefs. These touches pervade the narrative, without ever overwhelming it, weaving smoothly in and out of the plot and characters, inseparable from any of them. I felt completely transported to somewhere unfamiliar, but inexplicably ‘home’.

Alex has an unusual life though, even when compared to her local friends instead of a middle-aged blogger in the UK! Her mother works for the government, doing top-secret, classified work, and leaves Alex spy-type challenges to solve while she is away on her missions. Meanwhile, her dad deals with his worries about her mum’s dangerous career by scheduling every second of their lives minutely, but forgetting to check what Alex might want or need to add to The Schedule. And if it isn’t on The Schedule, it isn’t happening.

So far, so much pressure. I spend the majority of the book wondering how on earth Alex was managing to function at all, crushed by the weight of her parent’s expectations and issues, and even more so by her own burning desperation to follow in her mum’s footsteps exactly – every milestone, every prize, every clue solved. Where is the time to just be a child, to just be herself, Alex?! Add to that a crippling fear of the ocean – living in Hawaii! – and you have the perfect recipe for an emotional breakdown.

Still, as a reader I was apart from all of that pressure and able to just enjoy trying to solve the puzzles myself! There is loads of fun to be had here: word puzzles, picture puzzles, symbols and ciphers. I can’t say I beat Alex to many of them (maybe not ANY of them!) but I got a lot of enjoyment from trying anyway. And there is an added bonus of a puzzle hidden in the book just for eagle-eyed readers to solve: a ‘secret ocean code’. Not a spoiler – I didn’t solve it, so let me know if you do!

I felt just a little flat at the end, because I didn’t feel that the big climactic moments in the story fully resolved that huge tension between the plans Alex’s parents have for her and the desires she has of her own. They touch upon the subject, and skirt around each others feelings about it, and the tension does lower from the boiling point to a background simmer, but I couldn’t help feeling that it may crop up again, as soon as the next stressful situation comes along. The more I reflected on it though, the more realistic I felt that was, as most huge, emotional family dramas cannot easily be resolved within such a short period of time.

I’ve been really impressed by both of the middle-grade books I have read from this author, and can’t wait to introduce Minishine to Alex and Sophie (A Monster Like Me) – a brilliant pair of young heroines, in a pair of thoughtful and thought-provoking coming-of-age/family-issue standalone novels.



'Mom might love me with riddles and codes, but Dad loves me with golden spirals and supply bags. I’ll have to do something extra nice for him to say thank you. Maybe I’ll pick up some li hing strawberry belts or crack seed from Sam’s store on the way home.'

– Wendy Swore, Strong Like the Sea


Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog

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Strong Like the Sea is a fantastic middle-grade novel that hits all the right notes with modern childhood--adults scheduling everything, stress of school and wanting to make others proud, and wanting to live up to expectations one puts on themselves. Steeped in Hawaiian culture, this book blends code-breaking with environmentalism seamlessly. Another hit by Wendy S. Swore!

Thank you NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for the opportunity to read an advance reading copy.

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“Strong Like the Sea” is perfect for lovers of puzzles, codes, and stories of overcoming fears and handling the normal ups/downs of family life. Alexis’ mother is brilliant and her work as a consultant on military projects keeps her away from family a lot, but to stay connect with her daughter, she designs projects for solving while she’s gone. Alexis battles thoughts that she’ll fail to complete these challenging scavenger hunts and ultimately not “measure up” in the eyes of her mom. And although her family on the beaches of beautiful Oahu, a deep-seated fear of the water stemming from a traumatic experience keeps Alexis’ feet firmly planted on dry land. Readers in grades 4-7 who enjoy series like Chasing Vermeer and the Book Scavenger are likely to find much to keep their attention. Some may find Alexis to be a bit whiny, but her character changes over the course of the book and she becomes far less self-absorbed and begins to think far more about her Uncle, friend Malia and her parents than the things that are not perfect in her own life. Author Wendy Swore keeps her book free of profanity, violence and sexual content. Characters’ ethnicities are not always clearly specified, but it seems that most are either Caucasian or Polynesian/Hawaiian.

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Alex lives in Hawaii, but is scared of the water. This doesn't seem to interfere with her daily life, where she is surrounded by her group of friends, and is busy solving complicated puzzles left by her cryptographer mother. Until one day, her mom leaves her puzzles that she needs to go into the water to solve. The reader is taken on an adventure with Alex, exploring her tropical world, working to save the environment from pollution, and trying to get the courage to discover that she is truly strong like the sea.

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#StrongLikeTheSea #Netgalley

Alexis loves living in Hawaii. With her mom and dad. Alexis wants to be just like her mom, her mom is smart and works for the Navy and goes on secret missions. When her mom is gone, she sends Alexis on missions trying to break codes and solve puzzles. Alexis, loves her mom's code missions, until they involve her biggest fears the ocean and the creatures it hides. When a storm out at sea puts her mom in danger, her mom's last adventure is her hope of bringing her mom back. A cute story with a serious side. Family, friendship, facing your fears, and disappointments are just some of the subjects you will find in this novel

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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Strong like the Sea

Author: Wendy S. Swore

Book Series: Standalone

Diversity: Native Hawaiians and some culture

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For...: Mg readers, Mystery

Genre: MG Mystery

Publication Date: May 25, 2021

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Pages: 304

Recommended Age: 8+ (Some scary moments, Puzzles)

Synopsis: Even though twelve-year-old Alexis was born in Hawaii, she won’t surf or swim with her friends—not since the ocean and its hidden creatures swept her out to sea. Instead, she grabs her best detective hat and decodes her mom’s latest challenge

Alex’s mom works in counterintelligence and leaves codes, ciphers, and puzzles behind for Alex to solve, always with a “treasure” at the end. It’s a brilliant game between them, and Alex loves figuring out her mom’s puzzles—especially the tricky ones—but when an emergency at sea puts her mom in possible danger, solving the next one suddenly feels far more urgent.

Friends help as Alex races to decipher each clue before time runs out, but when the trail leads to grumpy old Uncle, his enormous dog Sarge, and a sea turtle unlike any other, the challenge changes into something bigger than any before. With storms on the horizon and lives on the line, Alex must face her fears to solve Mom’s challenge and save those she loves. With her ohana to help, she must be strong like the sea.

Review: For the most part I loved this cute middle grade novel. It was full of puzzles and I loved the adventure. The characters were all well developed and the world building was well done. I also liked the plot and thought it was a great read for littlies and oldies.

My only criticism of the book is that the pacing does slow down in the middle and it's a little rough getting through that section, but overall I highly enjoyed it.

Verdict: It was adorable!

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This middle grade book was insanely adorable and relatable. The author did an amazing job immersing the reader into Hawaiian culture and life while keeping the main character relatable too. A note to make, the main character does struggle with anxiety, pressure to succeed, and panic attacks. This may be triggering for some, but I found comfort in watching the characters develop and navigate their life and discover healing. I absolutely loved the ocean life and could picture the island easily. Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for an advanced copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Strong Like the sea is set with the gorgeous backdrop of Hawaii. I say backdrop but each page was so heavily influenced by the surroundings that the Island itself felt like a character. From colloquialisms and cultural practices, food, flora and fauna, you genuinely got such a feel for the place that even though I’ve never been to Hawaii, I felt like I had.

Alex herself was amazing. Not just because she was deciphering codes I had never even heard of but because of how she was handling everything.

I often felt sympathy for the children in this book because it seemed as if they didn’t get much time to simply be children. They ended up taking on a lot of their parents problems or expectations and were tackling things that, frankly, shouldn’t have been their problem.

With an over-achieving mother in a highly prestigious but dangerous job who expects her to solve extremely elaborate codes, a father whose almost fanatical dependence on a schedule smacks of OCD or at least some sort of controlling disorder, Alex’s balance between being herself, achieving her own as well as her mother’s expectations and walking on egg-shells would have had me cowering in my room for days.

I think Wendy Swore has such a good grasp on the pressures that young teens are under and puts it across in such a way that, even though you know it shouldn’t be, it just feels natural. Stressful, but natural.

Although the best friend finally gets a chance to reduce her work-load, Alex herself doesn’t address her family issues. They simply go from a boil to a simmer, which, I suppose, is realistic. Not all family problems are solved or can be solved easily.

There was a message of conservation threaded throughout but it was never overtly shoved in your face. The ending was sort of anti-climactic and fell a bit flat but the characters and the love between them all was heart-warming enough to make up for it.

summary
I really enjoyed reading it. I loved solving the puzzles along with Alex and adored her Uncle, even if he was grumpy.

Another great book by Wendy Swore and I’ll definitely recommend it to my younger readers.

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Wendy S. Swore in her recently released middle grade novel Strong Like the Sea, makes her setting almost like another character. Alex was born in Hawaii to an atypical family. Her mother works on a submarine in counterintelligence which means she is often away while her father is the parent who stays at home with a more normal working schedule as a teacher. In fact, schedule may be the most important thing to him with little room for working anything unplanned into it. Even her extended family is different with her paternal grandparents on the mainland, and her grumpy Uncle and peacekeeping Auntie who raised her mother serving a grandparent-like role for her on the islands.

Each time her mother has an away assignment, she uses her own skills with codes, ciphers, and puzzles to leave a puzzle for Alex to solve while she is gone with some treasure as a reward at the end. Alex faces other challenges in Uncle’s enormous slobbery dog Sarge and the sea turtle he has saved and in the school challenge where she wants to win awards in science and history to earn a spot on the same wall where her mother excelled before her. Then there is Alex’s fear of the ocean that brings on panic attacks that set her apart in Hawaii. Whether her courage or her fear will win out is tested when communication with her mother’s submarine stops and Uncle faces real danger that only she can help in the ocean. This is an excellent family story for middle graders who enjoy puzzles and uncertainty.

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As the tides change, strength appears in the most unexpected places. Twelve-year-old Alexis Force has lived in Laie all her life. The child of two loving parents, she strives to be just like her mother, a highly accomplished woman who loves codes so much she works for the US Navy in counterintelligence. When her work takes her away from home, Alex’s mother leaves her daughter a complex series of clues to solve in the interim. This latest set is more involved than any previous editions, and through perseverance, teamwork, and a strong sense of ohana, Alex learns how strong she truly is.

Taking place on Oahu in the Hawaiian islands, this story idyllically captures the myriad feelings, foods, and cultural norms inherent to life in this tightly-knit community. From mentions of the “coconut wireless” to “chicken skin” and, of course, ohana—family connected by more than blood—readers from all backgrounds will become deeply familiar with Alex’s way of life. Hawaiian language and vernacular are incorporated throughout the narrative, appearing in standard text instead of italics as is the case in many books of this type. This decision makes the potentially unfamiliar vocabulary as intrinsic to the dialogue as it is in reality.

An extensive glossary at the end of the book includes brief definitions of many of the words included, though readers will be able to comprehend most from context within the story itself. Alongside that, readers will find descriptions of many of the foods mentioned in the narrative and a series of entries from native Hawaiians detailing what they love best about their home. Though the author is not Hawaiian herself, she has gone to great lengths to ensure accuracy in her storytelling, and her love of this land is palpable.

Strong messages of blooming where one is planted and embracing family regardless of blood relation are pervasive throughout this book. As Alex struggles to embrace her true identity, there are many challenges she must overcome, both internally and externally. Each obstacle shows Alex what she is truly capable of, while encouraging readers to bravely face their own. This wonderfully complex tale of love and perseverance is an excellent addition to libraries for middle grade readers.

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I received an electronic ARC from Shadow Mountain Publishing through NetGalley.
Readers meet Alexis, a 12-year old who lives in Hawaii, and see how she interacts with family and friends. She is terrified of the water; eventually, readers learn why when her uncle convinces her to share with him. This fear is a central part of the story, and as you would expect, she conquers it when someone more important is in danger on the water.
The overarching themes of love and living up to expectations come through clearly. Readers also see different styles of coping when a parent/spouse is away for long periods of time. Staying on schedules is another theme that weaves through the overall plot.
For me, the book bogged down in the descriptions at times and didn't move forward smoothly. Certainly, Hawaii is beautiful and the sea creatures survival is critical, but the breaks from the story to revisit this were distracting at times. Readers also saw Alexis solve the puzzles set up by her mom but did not participate actively in the process. They remained spectators looking on as the characters interacted.
Overall, it is a sweet story about survival and overcoming fears of all sorts. Middle grade readers will appreciate the struggles Alexis and her friends walk through. We see her friends struggle with overcommitment and parental job loss in the background to Alexis' family story. Their challenges are hinted at but get resolved in the background.
The final sentence "Grow strong like my family - strong like the sea." sums up and connects the pieces throughout the book. The sea turtles hatch, her mom is home, her uncle is recovering, and she has faced and conquered her main fears and anxieties.

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Twelve-year-old Alexis was born in Hawaii but she’s scared of the water. Her mom travels with the navy, and she leaves codes and puzzles for Alexis to solve while she’s gone. Alexis has to solve her most difficult puzzle yet. She needs help to solve it, including from her grumpy Uncle. Before she can finish it, her mom goes missing. This becomes Alexis’s most important challenge, as she races to finish it to make her mom proud.

I would have loved this book when I was a kid. I loved puzzles and mystery stories. Alexis had many different types of puzzles to solve, including treasure hunts and codes. These sounded so fun, and may spark an interest in puzzles for young readers.

I loved the island setting. I haven’t been to Hawaii but I definitely want to go after reading this story. There were many Hawaiian terms used throughout the story, but they were either explained in the context of the sentence or in the glossary at the end. Food was an important part of the story as well. Most of it sounded really delicious, except for the stinky fruit they used to make a healing tea. I loved learning about Hawaiian culture in this story.

Strong Like the Sea is a great middle grade novel!

Thank you Shadow Mountain Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Alex lives in Hawaii, where she enjoys solving puzzles created by her mother, a Navy intelligence officer. But she does not enjoy the ocean due to an accident she had a few years earlier. Alex must summon up all the courage she has when she is called upon to help her uncle with his ocean research, and then when her mother's Navy sub goes missing. I enjoyed Swore's The Wish and the Peacock, and here is another richly-layered story about a child learning to take on the responsibilities of adulthood. The Hawaiian setting is great, too, and the details of Alex's island will fascinate kids.

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My daughters and I recently finished reading this book together, and it was so good!

Alexis lives in Hawaii, but after a bad experience involving a moray eel, she prefers to avoid the ocean. Her mom, an intelligence contractor often away working on US navy submarines, leaves coding puzzles and hunts for Alexis to complete, giving them a connection even when they’re apart. Alexis’s latest assignment includes helping her mom’s grumpy adopted uncle with his work, and I loved how that relationship developed for Alexis and for Uncle Tanaka. They both ended up stretching and helping each other. I really enjoyed how not only Alexis and her Uncle, but also most of the other characters (like her dad and her friends) also grew and learned important lessons throughout the story. The coding and the vivid Hawaiian setting were also well done.

I asked my kids what they most liked, and one said the plot and the other said the setting. If you (or your children) enjoy middle-grade fiction, or if you just want to take a trip to Hawaii without boarding a plane, I recommend checking out this book.

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Alex loves living in Hawaii almost as much as she loves her mom’s habit of creating clue and code filled treasure hunts for her solve. But Alex hates the ocean ever since she was swept out to sea and nearly drowned. When her mom is away on a work trip for her job in counterintelligence, she leaves Alex a fascinating new mystery to solve. There are puzzles and codes to crack and Alex is having a blast until her mom’s is out at risk. This book has a great cast of characters. Alex is smart and witty and loves her family but she also has fears that hold her back from enjoying life to the fullest. Her adventure leads her to face her fears and find her bravery for her family ultimately leading to a rescue where Alex saves the life of someone special. The story will draw children in with the fast paced action and adventure in a treasure hunt style mission. Readers will enjoy trying to solve the puzzles and cyphers along with Alex while empathizing with her fears. An entertaining read for mid to upper elementary readers who love books with a background of Hawaiian culture, mysteries to solve and missions to complete.

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This is a cute middle grade story set in Laie, Hawaii about overcoming fears. There are a lot of unfamiliar Hawaiian words, but readers will be able to figure out the meaning from the context. There is also a glossary at the end with definitions if needed. Fun topics are introduced that readers will want to learn more about like Rainbow Eucalyptus trees and the incredible women from WWII Alexis researches for her history project.

Alexis is an insecure 6th grade girl. She worries about disappointing her parents, especially her mom who is gone periodically while working for navy intelligence on a submarine. She is very intelligent and leaves clues and riddles for Alex to decode. Alex is afraid to go in the ocean due to a traumatic experience, but overcomes her fear when it is necessary to help her family. She realizes what matters in life is your family, not your stuff or awards.

I love that their family motto is Rise Where You Stand. It came from a coconut planted in a crack of lava that didn’t have any dirt but grew up strong like the sea. The message her dad gives her is sometimes life is hard and unfair, but you can overcome it because you’re stronger than you know.
Thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing for an ARC to use for my review.

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I really liked this book. The location was so vivid and I loved the puzzles. This book was excellent!

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Strong Like the Sea took some definite think-power to write! Throughout the entire story, Alexis is on a mission to figure out the challenging puzzle her mother left her while she attended a work-trip. Alexis's mother is a scientist who works secret jobs to help the government. Alexis is taking after her mom's footsteps by learning these strategies in how to solve problems and figure out the bigger meaning behind everything she sees. While completing her mom's list of challenges, Alexis discovers so much more than what she ever thought she would.

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I want to thank NetGalley and Shadow Mountain for a eARC. Strong Like the Sea is a wonderful middle grade book. I love how they put Hawaiian culture in this story. I would recommend anyone to read this. I'm giving this book a 4 out of 5 stars. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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It is a wonderful story where the mom connects with the daughter by giving her codes to break, while the mom is away from the family. The setting of Hawaii adds to the beauty of the story. You can’t help but cherish the relationship between the little girl and her uncle. You go on a journey with them while they learn about each other and from each other. While reading the book you think its about a girl and her mother, but it’s really about a girl finding herself in her friends and her family, especially her uncle, who refinds his humanity-his family/gentler side. I can’t wait to add this book to my library and to recommend it to the student to read. This is my #1 favorite summer book read. Excellent writing, excellent story, feel good book, you’ll want to read again and again..

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I was not sure what to expect when I started this book but ended up really liking it! I don't know much about Hawaii other than what you see in pop culture and it was fun to get a different perspective. The characters in this book were fleshed out well and you learned to love/understand them quickly. I would recommend this title to anyone looking for a middle grade title about facing your fears and how to go about living while you do so.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the author for allowing me to read this!

I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis of this book. This book instantly drew me in, I got to explore through the eyes of our main character and this is always my favorite way to discover these details of the story and, it was done very well in this book. I really enjoyed this book and the plot. This author did amazing. I loved the writing style.

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Enjoyable and heart warming tale about family ( especially the mother/daughter bond.) and overcoming your fears. I liked the look at the Hawaiian culture. Well written.

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An enjoyable read with my 10 year old daughter. We love maritime/coastal set locations in our books and this one appealed to us with the cover and the summary. Overall we liked the story and the character growth. Those are always our favorite elements to talk about together.

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A beautiful and touching Middle Grade. I loved the prose and pacing. It was a quick read with great impact.

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Wendy Swore's books always have a lovely theme of family and love and sticking together. What a beautiful setting! The puzzles were fun to figure out. Alexis is wonderful and I enjoyed her brave journey.

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Review published on Goodreads, 29 April 2022:

I enjoy Wendy Swore's gentle MG novels and this one, her newest, is no exception. My favorite thing about it, I think, is the strong sense of place. Laie, Hawaii, really comes alive in the book. I've been to Laie, but now I feel like I know the REAL Laie! The characters are also very sympathetic and likable. Alex is a kind, sensitive girl who's surrounded by friends and family who are also warm, compassionate, and supportive. As far as plot goes...at 287 pages, STRONG LIKE THE SEA is long for a contemporary MG story and it does feel slow at times. The treasure hunt/puzzle aspect is fun, but even that got a little dull for me, especially since it ends in such an anti-climatic way for something that's so central to the plot. True, solving the challenge isn't really what this book is about, but still. At its heart, this novel is a sweet story about family, friendship, respecting the natural world, overcoming fear, and finding the inner strength that's within each of us. I didn't love the book, but I liked it overall.

If I could, I would give STRONG LIKE THE SEA 3 1/2 stars; since I can't, I'm rounding up.

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