Five Reasons to Read: Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne – A Spirited Adventure in Barbados about Grief, Magical Stepmothers, and Carribean Mythology


Eleven-year-old Josephine knows that no one is good enough for her daddy. That’s why she makes a habit of scaring his new girlfriends away. She’s desperate to make it onto her school’s cricket team because she’ll get to play her favorite sport AND use the cricket matches to distract Daddy from dating.

But when Coach Broomes announces that girls can’t try out for the team, the frustrated Josephine cuts into a powerful silk cotton tree and accidentally summons a bigger problem into her life . . .

The next day, Daddy brings home a new catch, a beautiful woman named Mariss. And unlike the other girlfriends, this one doesn’t scare easily. Josephine knows there’s something fishy about Mariss but she never expected her to be a vengeful sea creature eager to take her place as her father’s first love! Can Josephine convince her friends to help her and use her cricket skills to save Daddy from Mariss’s clutches before it’s too late?

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

After reading Josephine Against the Sea, I felt like I had traveled all the way to the small village in Barbados where Josephine lives, and that I had gone on an unforgettable journey with her. Josephine Against the Sea reminds me so much of the middle-grade books that I used to read as a younger reader – a story filled with mischief, a little danger, but is ultimately a simple and fun adventure with so much heart.

Today, I want to share with you with five awesome reasons why I think you should read Josephine Against the Sea! I loved and thoroughly enjoyed this spirited story and hope you will give it a read.

1. Josephine is a wonderful and memorable protagonist

The star of Josephine Against the Sea is Josephine herself and shines brightly. She is a little cheeky and is always getting into some sort of mischief, loves her father more than words can express, and her keen curiosity makes her such a pleasure to follow. I also loved that she was an avid cricket fan and player, and how she is able to bond with her father with cricket (even if she does use cricket to distract her father from dating other women)! Ultimately, Josephine is a character brimming with life, one you won’t forget easily.

2. The story will ignite your sense of curiosity

What I loved about Josephine Against the Sea was how the story ignites a sense of curiosity. Reading this story made me feel like a little kid again – when everything felt big (and maybe a little scary) and new and I wanted to investigate everything. When Josephine finds out that her father’s new girlfriend isn’t quite what she seems, she takes investigating her into her own hands. As Josephine gets deeper and deeper into the mystery, readers will be guessing constantly about what happens next.

3. It’s inspired by Carribean mythology

Mythology lovers, rejoice! If you love reading stories inspired by different mythology and folklore, then Josephine Against the Sea makes a perfect read. I loved the Carribean mythology in this story and how it just pulls you right into the heart of Barbados. From the mysterious and spiritual silk cotton tree to mysterious yet alluring sea creature that is dating Josephine’s father, I really enjoyed how the story is effortlessly intertwined with Carribean mythology. Without giving too much away, I loved how the antagonist of the story isn’t inherently evil; she does some ‘good’ and some ‘bad’ as well, but above all she’s a being of her nature, not confined to human ideas of good or bad.

4. There’s a balance of humour and bittersweet

What makes Josephine Against the Sea such a wonderful read was also how funny it is! There were many moments that caught me off guard and made me burst out laughing. On the other hand, there were also some bittersweet moments – about how Josephine’s protectiveness of her father comes from a place of grief and loneliness, and how her father is really one of the only people that she has in the world and she doesn’t really want to share him with another person (especially if that person might be a sea creature!). Shakirah balances both the humour and bittersweet, giving readers a well-rounded and emotionally fulfilling story.

5. The adventure is simple and fun, perfect for younger readers

The most charming thing about Josephine Against the Sea is that, at its heart, it’s a simple and fun adventure. There are plenty of moments that will have you cheering Josephine on – because why aren’t the adults seeing what she sees?! – and also a few moments that will have you at the edge of your seat as you wonder how Josephine is going to get out of yet another mess and, a few times, genuine danger. There’s nothing overly complex about this book, and there doesn’t need to be that much complexity – it’s a perfect reader for younger readers who want something engaging, page-turning, and lots of fun.

Is this book for you?

Premise in a sentence: A young Barbadian girl tries to save her father from his new girlfriend – who she suspects may not be human but a vengeful sea creature.

Perfect for: Younger readers who love adventure stories; younger readers who love stories with different mythologies; younger readers who enjoy action-packed stories with a mystery element

Think twice if: You’re not a fan of middle-grade books

Genre: young adult urban fantasy (mythology)

Trigger/content warning: almost drowning (character survives), dead parent (mentioned)

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2 thoughts on “Five Reasons to Read: Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne – A Spirited Adventure in Barbados about Grief, Magical Stepmothers, and Carribean Mythology

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