Girl of the Southern Sea
From the time she was a little girl, Nia has dreamed up adventures about the Javanese mythical princess, Dewi Kadita. Now fourteen, Nia would love nothing more than to continue her education and become a writer. But high school costs money her family doesn’t have; everything her father earns selling banana fritters at the train station goes to their meager existence in the Jakarta slums―assuming he doesn’t drink it all away first.But Nia―forced to grow up too soon to take care of her baby brother following their mother’s death during childbirth―is determined to find a way to earn her school fees. After she survives a minibus accident unharmed and the locals say she is blessed with ‘good luck magic,’ Nia exploits the notion for all its worth by charging double for her fried bananas. Selling superstitions can be dangerous, and when the tide turns and she discovers her father’s secret plan to marry her off to a much older admirer, It becomes clear that Nia’s future is being mapped without her consent.If Nia is to write a new story for herself, she must overcome more obstacles than she could ever have conceived of for her mythical princess, and summon courage she isn’t sure she has.

Girl of the Southern Sea Details

TitleGirl of the Southern Sea
Author
ReleaseMay 23rd, 2019
PublisherPajama Press
ISBN-139781772780819
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Death, Fiction, Contemporary

Girl of the Southern Sea Review

  • Kathie
    January 1, 1970
    A huge thank you to the author and Pajama Press for sharing a copy of GIRL OF THE SOUTHERN SEA with #bookportage. I loved THE THEORY OF HUMMINGBIRDS, so I was very pumped when Michelle offered to send her new book my way. I am so, so excited about this book, and would dearly love to get it into as many hands as possible.Nia lives in Jakarta with her father and little brother. Although she desperately wants to go to high school, her father's careless use of the family's resources makes it impossi A huge thank you to the author and Pajama Press for sharing a copy of GIRL OF THE SOUTHERN SEA with #bookportage. I loved THE THEORY OF HUMMINGBIRDS, so I was very pumped when Michelle offered to send her new book my way. I am so, so excited about this book, and would dearly love to get it into as many hands as possible.Nia lives in Jakarta with her father and little brother. Although she desperately wants to go to high school, her father's careless use of the family's resources makes it impossible for her to continue her studies. When a string of bad luck affects her family, Nia makes a choice to take advantage of an opportunity to fulfill her dreams. Unfortunately, her father has other plans for her, and Nia must find a way to stand up for what she believes in.I really love to read middle grade stories set in other countries, especially when they are told by #ownvoices authors, and Jakarta is not a place about which I've ever read a book. Intermingled with the reality of Nia's life are stories that she tells her little brother about about Nyai Roro Kidul (Dewi Kadita), who is also known as the Princess of the Southern Sea, and inspires Nia. Though she is faced with many challenges and hardships, Nia is hopeful about the future, and this commitment to her dreams in the face of adversity is what I loved most about this story. I will be actively promoting and talking about this book because I believe we learn so much from stories where characters' lives are different from our own. Not only does it encourage empathy and understanding, but we also see how certain qualities, like hope, are something we all have in common. I strongly encourage you to pre-order a copy of this book, and share it with the students and middle grade readers in your life.
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  • Abby Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    Nia dreams of continuing her education but her family doesn’t have the fees for high school. When her alcoholic father is injured in a police altercation, Nia must take her family’s food cart into her own hands to put food on the table for her little brother. This is a peek inside a life of abject poverty and the story is gritty but not without hope.Hand to readers of TRASH by Andy Mulligan or AMAL UNBOUND by Aisha Saaed.
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  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    Could you imagine having your life mapped out for you and you have no control over it? Nia's life is spiraling out of control, she is forced to live a life she doesn't want, and decisions are being made for her. At age fourteen, Nia has had to grow up way too fast. Her mother passed away just after giving birth to Nia's little brother. Nia's father has never recovered from her death and he spends most of his time and their money drinking. Nia has had to raise her little brother all by herself in Could you imagine having your life mapped out for you and you have no control over it? Nia's life is spiraling out of control, she is forced to live a life she doesn't want, and decisions are being made for her. At age fourteen, Nia has had to grow up way too fast. Her mother passed away just after giving birth to Nia's little brother. Nia's father has never recovered from her death and he spends most of his time and their money drinking. Nia has had to raise her little brother all by herself in the slums of Jakarta. Nia is extremely smart and wants to become a writer but those dreams seem to be as far away as the ocean is deep. In Jakarta your schooling is free until you reach high school, then you have to pay to go to school, and Nia doesn't have the money for that. Nia and her dad run a fried banana cart and what little money they make goes to rent the shack they live in, meager groceries, and mostly to her father's alcohol. Nia wants to write her own story but things go from bad to worse when she survives a minibus accident. She is the only one who survives so people now think that she is "magic". She exploits this by doubling the price of her fried bananas, but her "good luck" runs out quickly and she seems to lose everything. Her father leaves her and her brother alone, an angry mob attacks her when her "magic" runs out, and her father has promised her hand in marriage to a man she refuses to marry. Can Nia turn her life around or will she be stuck in the slums forever? Will Nia's father ever come back to help her or will she be forced to marry a man just because her father promised? Will Nia ever be able to attend high school and become a writer telling all of the stories her mother used to tell her about the Queen of the Southern Sea? Read this incredible story to find out the answers to these questions and so much more!!This story is so full of sadness, loss, bitterness, and heartbreak but it is also so full of love, friendship, hope and determination! Nia is an inspiration to me because she has been dealt such a bad hand in life but she is intent on making a better life for herself. I am so naive when it comes to how people live outside of my little bubble in this world and it breaks my heart to know that people truly live like this. It also saddens me to know that there are girls today who do not have a choice about what they do or who they marry. This is why I commend Michelle Kadarusman for donating a portion of the book's proceeds to Plan International Canada's #BecauseIAmaGirl campaign. This is a book that needs to be in every library and every classroom around the world! Let's make a change!!!Follow me:Blog - Blazer Tales - https://blazertales.com/Facebook - Laurie’s Library Place - https://www.facebook.com/LauriesLibra...Instagram - laurieslibrary - https://www.instagram.com/laurieslibr...Twitter - @laurieevans27 https://twitter.com/laurieevans27?lan...Goodreads - Laurie Purser - https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1...Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/auburngirl2...YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCulD...Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurie-ev...
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    Public library copyNia lives in Jakarta, Indonesia with her father, who runs a fried banana cart, and her brother, Rudi, whose birth led to their mother's death. Her father drinks excessively, often taking the money needed for rent on their shack or for food. Nia no longer goes to school, since the family does not have the fees. She works around the home and helps her father with the banana cart. When she is taking the rent to the landlord, she is involved in a bad bus accident and is the only o Public library copyNia lives in Jakarta, Indonesia with her father, who runs a fried banana cart, and her brother, Rudi, whose birth led to their mother's death. Her father drinks excessively, often taking the money needed for rent on their shack or for food. Nia no longer goes to school, since the family does not have the fees. She works around the home and helps her father with the banana cart. When she is taking the rent to the landlord, she is involved in a bad bus accident and is the only one who escapes unharmed. A local merchant, Oskar, helps her home, and then spends a lot of time around the cart telling everyone about her miracle of survival. Nia charges more for the bananas and life seems to be looking up, since she has also decided not to let her father have any money at all, lest he spend it on alcohol. However, the people who willingly buy her good luck fritters eventually turn on her for her higher prices, her father leaves and is apparently in another city with another family, and Oskar breaks into the house claiming he is only looking for the dowry Nia's father promised him. Nia is not ready to go down so easily. She confronts Oskar and his mother, and even hunts down her father. She even gets a job as a literacy tutor at her old school, and is able to make a better life for her and Rudi. Strengths: I love books like Cruz's Everlasting Nora, Saeed's Amal Unbound, or Venkatraman's A Bridge Home; and I don't know that I've ever read anything set in Indonesia! The details of housing, clothing and daily life are all good, and Nia's fight to improve her life is admirable. This is an #ownvoices book, but since the author doesn't currently live in Indonesia, she had a sensitivity writer. I love that attention to detail. Weaknesses: Not a weakness with this book, but I would like to see books set in other countries where the children are not horribly treated. I don't want my students thinking that everywhere else in the world is a horrible place. They need to know that sometimes it is, but there should be some balance. What I really think: Definitely purchasing. Canadian writers seem to be putting out books on more cultures than US ones? There have been a lot of great books coming out of Canada, and I'm glad that we get them. (Unlike Carrol's Ultra, Scholastic! I'm still bitter!)
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    Fourteen-year-old Nia, a talented writer, storyteller, and student, dreams of attending school and making a better life for herself and her young brother, Rudi. But as their father continues to drink heavily and spend the money the family needs for the basic necessities, she sees her dreams growing further and further out of reach. She can no longer afford to go to school and must go to work. As it is, living in the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia, is challenging enough for anyone, but saddled with Fourteen-year-old Nia, a talented writer, storyteller, and student, dreams of attending school and making a better life for herself and her young brother, Rudi. But as their father continues to drink heavily and spend the money the family needs for the basic necessities, she sees her dreams growing further and further out of reach. She can no longer afford to go to school and must go to work. As it is, living in the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia, is challenging enough for anyone, but saddled with heavy responsibilities ever since her mother died, Nia is close to giving up hope. Still, she does what she can, helping her father make and sell fritters in the local market, and when she somehow survives an accident in which others were killed, she attracts the attention of Oskar, a wealthier older man, who drums up customers for her. At first, she follows his suggestion to charge extra for the fritters since they are lucky because she made them, but eventually, her customers turn on her when their luck doesn't change. She barely escapes with her life after a mob comes close to burning her alive. Nia learns the truth about her father and where he's been spending his free time and also loses all the money she's managed to save. At her lowest moment, though, a glimmer of hope keeps her going, and she remains determined to go to school. Teen readers who think they have it tough need to read this book and see what a challenging situation really is. Like me, they'll surely be rooting for Nia to survive and accomplish her goals.
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  • Kristin Crouch
    January 1, 1970
    *Thank you to the author for sharing a review copy with #collabookation.*Girl of the Southern Sea takes us to Jakarta, into the life of Nia, a young girl who must find a way to sustain her family while her father works to ruin it.Heartbreaking in struggle, the reader understands Nia's unending dedication to her brother and the memory of her mother. Every day, as she gets her brother off to school, she is reminded of the dream she had to abandon. Through much difficulty, Nia never loses faith in *Thank you to the author for sharing a review copy with #collabookation.*Girl of the Southern Sea takes us to Jakarta, into the life of Nia, a young girl who must find a way to sustain her family while her father works to ruin it.Heartbreaking in struggle, the reader understands Nia's unending dedication to her brother and the memory of her mother. Every day, as she gets her brother off to school, she is reminded of the dream she had to abandon. Through much difficulty, Nia never loses faith in the choices she's had to make. With the help of mythological Goddess Dewi Kadita, Nia finds the strength to solve the problems she can and work to be her best every day. This book is a wonderful tribute to kids all over the world who suffer through the choices their parents make. Nia, as is true of any child, deserves nothing but good. However, her life is very difficult and dangerous. Lovingly, Kadarusman infuses the story with hope and faith with the inclusion of Dewi Kadita. Students will enjoy spending time in Jakarta - a world away from North America. But more than that, they will be inspired by Nia's love for herself and her family, Nia's hopes for education, and her work to achieve what seems completely impossible. Highly recommend Girl of the Southern Sea to students in grades 5 and up.
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  • Christina
    January 1, 1970
    Nia is such an intelligent, ambitious, and courageous girl who is determined to make a better life for herself, refusing to accept that her schooling is over. Girl of the Southern Sea is an incredible, honest novel written by Michelle Kadarusman, well-deserving of it’s Junior Library Guild gold standard selection, that follows Nia’s journey through some difficult situations in the slums of Jakarta and her unyielding efforts to see to it that she saves enough money to attend high school. She’s no Nia is such an intelligent, ambitious, and courageous girl who is determined to make a better life for herself, refusing to accept that her schooling is over. Girl of the Southern Sea is an incredible, honest novel written by Michelle Kadarusman, well-deserving of it’s Junior Library Guild gold standard selection, that follows Nia’s journey through some difficult situations in the slums of Jakarta and her unyielding efforts to see to it that she saves enough money to attend high school. She’s not had an easy life—losing her mother then subsequently tasked with the responsibility of taking care of her baby brother and alcoholic father—in poverty with bouts of bad luck. Still this book is hopeful as you read of Nia’s grit and thoughtfulness. Nia is a wonderful story teller and shares her vivid retellings of Dewi Kadita, a mythological goddess throughout the book. These stories not only serve as entertainment and comfort for her brother, but as a creative outlet for Nia, inspiring her to find her own power and persist through adversity. This book is touching through the end to the authors note as she shares her experiences in the region and her efforts to support Plan International Canada’s Because I am a Girl initiative.
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  • Stephanie Bange
    January 1, 1970
    An incredible peek into the life of a third world young teenage girl, whose destiny can turn on the whim of those around her.Growing up in extreme poverty in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nia is the bond that holds together her family -- her younger brother and alcoholic father. She sees an escape from penury if she can only attend high school in order to become a writer. When she is sole survivor of a horrible bus crash, a stranger steps in to help her cash in on other's superstitious beliefs. The get-ri An incredible peek into the life of a third world young teenage girl, whose destiny can turn on the whim of those around her.Growing up in extreme poverty in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nia is the bond that holds together her family -- her younger brother and alcoholic father. She sees an escape from penury if she can only attend high school in order to become a writer. When she is sole survivor of a horrible bus crash, a stranger steps in to help her cash in on other's superstitious beliefs. The get-rich scheme escalates her in a downward spiral toward danger and a forced marriage.An incredible story of bravery and self-confidence in a world not often seen in the U.S. Nia and her family live meal-to-meal. Theirs is a world fraught with danger. Nia buoys her and her brother's spirits by telling stories about the Queen of the Southern Sea -- stories told to her by her late mother. Nia's indomitable spirit carries this story to its logical conclusion. Kadarusman has opened wide a door into this world so foreign to ours - religion, customs, foods, lifestyle. Armchair traveling at its peak.Highly recommended for grades 5-9.
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  • Joyce Grant
    January 1, 1970
    Michelle Kadarusman beautifully portrays the fierce, brave and practical Nia as she navigates through the choppy waters of her life's challenges. A drunken father, a near-fatal minibus crash and harrowing treatment at the hands of some of the people around her. Kadarusman elegantly and respectfully describes the Jakarta slums in a way that is visceral, so we can see, smell and almost touch it. The author depicts challenging events with an even hand, always showing how Nia's strength can also be Michelle Kadarusman beautifully portrays the fierce, brave and practical Nia as she navigates through the choppy waters of her life's challenges. A drunken father, a near-fatal minibus crash and harrowing treatment at the hands of some of the people around her. Kadarusman elegantly and respectfully describes the Jakarta slums in a way that is visceral, so we can see, smell and almost touch it. The author depicts challenging events with an even hand, always showing how Nia's strength can also be the reader's strength. And when Nia finds helpers, we rejoice in the kindness of humanity. A beautiful read, highly recommended.
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  • Becki
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you NetGalley and Pajama Press for the advanced copy. This was a beautiful glimpse into the slums of Jakarta where we meet Nia, who dreams of going to high school. Unfortunately, her life keeps changing in ways she never expected and now her future is also being decided for her. She has the choice to just accept her new fate or to fight for her dream of going to high school. Fortunately, Nia chooses to fight for her future and her family.
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  • Shari
    January 1, 1970
    Set in the Jakarta slums, this is a beautifully told story of a girl struggling to hang onto her dreams amidst difficult and dangerous challenges. Love, loss, the fierce hope of a strong girl, and the power of stories... I loved it!
  • Vicki
    January 1, 1970
    4 1/2 starsGirl of the Southern Sea takes an unflinching look at the lives of young people like Nia, in potentially oppressive circumstances, but remains optimistic and is ultimately uplifting.
  • Mirna Pizzy
    January 1, 1970
    Is a nice and easy read. It pains me how so many kids are still not able to obtain a proper education.
  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    So good, the kind of book you want to shove into people's hands and insist they read.
  • Niki
    January 1, 1970
    Nia, a young girl from the slums of Jakarta who dreams of being a writer and attending high school, has the burden of a lot of responsibility in her family. She must constantly struggle to change the path of her life. Themes of resilience, determination, and loyalty are woven through Girl of the Southern Sea. By the author of , which is a 2019 MYRCA nominee, I wonder if we'll see Girl of the Southern Sea on that list in the future. I recommend Girl of the Southern Sea for libraries serving child Nia, a young girl from the slums of Jakarta who dreams of being a writer and attending high school, has the burden of a lot of responsibility in her family. She must constantly struggle to change the path of her life. Themes of resilience, determination, and loyalty are woven through Girl of the Southern Sea. By the author of , which is a 2019 MYRCA nominee, I wonder if we'll see Girl of the Southern Sea on that list in the future. I recommend Girl of the Southern Sea for libraries serving children in grades 4-6. Thank you to #BookPortage for sharing this ARC.
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  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    For books published within the US, even those featuring people of color generally take place within the country, so it's great to have a chance to read something that takes place somewhere else. Indonesia is drawn quite vividly, and Nia is certainly a heroine to root for, one whose creativity is relatable and whose perseverance is admirable. The plot does skew toward the realistic rather than the idealistic: it tackles alcoholism, child marriage, household responsibilities sometimes foisted prem For books published within the US, even those featuring people of color generally take place within the country, so it's great to have a chance to read something that takes place somewhere else. Indonesia is drawn quite vividly, and Nia is certainly a heroine to root for, one whose creativity is relatable and whose perseverance is admirable. The plot does skew toward the realistic rather than the idealistic: it tackles alcoholism, child marriage, household responsibilities sometimes foisted prematurely children, lack of educational opportunities, and concerns of poverty in general. Nia's friend Yuli, for example, begins making money by helping to sell drugs and uses her earnings (many times more than Nia's) to buy a phone and jeans rather than to pay for school as Nia would. Even the uplifting (?) ending, wherein Nia will eventually be able to go to high school, comes only as a result of her working as a tutor in the school to earn her way. And things did skew toward the extremely dark, especially for a kid's book, as in the bus accident scene, or the incident where Nia is almost stoned and burned alive by her fellow stall owners in the marketplace.I think introducing kids to other cultures is necessary, and I don't want to push for things to be sugar-coated; many of the issues Nia faces are similar to those real young people have, and it's important to expose kids to lives unlike their own and to raise awareness in young readers. But I wonder at the blunt manner in which it's done here, especially considering the majority of readers will likely never travel to Indonesia or meet Indonesian people to therefore gain a better rounded view of the country. It comes off here as so significantly negative that it leaves me wondering about whether that was the author's intent.
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  • Leigh
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest opinion.Nia is a wonderful character living in poverty in Indonesia. Her alcoholic father sells her family's banana fritters at a cart in the local market, but he is unreliable at best, and it is fourteen year old Nia who is left to run the household and care for her younger brother. Her dream is to go to high school so that she can become a famous writer, but it is a goal that doesn't seem to be attainable in her giv I received this from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest opinion.Nia is a wonderful character living in poverty in Indonesia. Her alcoholic father sells her family's banana fritters at a cart in the local market, but he is unreliable at best, and it is fourteen year old Nia who is left to run the household and care for her younger brother. Her dream is to go to high school so that she can become a famous writer, but it is a goal that doesn't seem to be attainable in her given circumstances. When it is most needed, she finds help from the unlikeliest of friends.
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  • Natasha
    January 1, 1970
    Reminds me of Amal Unbound or Front Desk with the themes of being taken advantage of by richer, more privileged men, and in the frank discussion of poverty the families live in and how viciously hard they work with repeated setbacks, mostly not of their own making.
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