Expectations are a terrible thing because so often they let you down. I started this book really wanting to love it. I mean what's not to love here. A wonderful story of grit and determination in a teenage girl, who at sixteen isn't even a woman yet, striving against all odds to break the world record as the youngest female to single-handedly sail around the world non-stop. That she does not succeed is not the story here the story is thee fortitude and perseverance she demonstrates having to repair the ship, following instructions over the phone from hundreds of miles away in the worst conditions imaginable, and the will to survive when her yacht almost capsizes and then the disappointment when her mast snaps off leaving her drifting in a spot on the Indian Ocean just about as far from land as she could be. My heart broke along with hers when she had no choice but to activate the emergency beacon and summon help.
The problem is that I just gave you the entire book in one paragraph. It would have been longer obviously if the trip had not been cut short, so the preparation for the journey is dwelt on too long to give the book some filler. We are a third of the way through the book before she even sets sail. Now I am going to assume that, like any other athletic event, the party performing the feat has trained. it would really be a story if they did the deed without preparation. The only book I had read that I could compare this one too was Dove (Sunderland mentions having read this herself) a story of Robin lee graham, who sailed the world as a sixteen year old over thirty years ago. He was a pioneer in this type of single-handedly sailing the world and an inspiration to the author here. His book spends the first chapter on the preparation and the rest on the journey. Unsinkable should have followed suit.
The other problem, and it is because of the elongated beginning that this is even discussed are the parents of the author. I recall when this journey actually took place and the press questioned whether or not she was capable and if the parents were out of their mind letting her do this trip. Now Sunderland showed all of us she was capable, level-headed and courageous. However, the fact that she had to call for help pack to her dad and the team she had assembled rather than being able to figure it out or jerry-rig the boat shows that perhaps she was really not a 'seasoned salt' and could have used a little more time in real life before sailing on this trip. The book does little to convince me of that fact and the parents somehow take the blame in the court of the people for not realizing this fact.
Anyway, hats off to Abby Sunderland for surviving her adventure and for being able to tell us all about it in this stirring book. It should be proposed reading for all teenagers that are sitting around each summer bored. They don’t have to sail the world but they can apply themselves whole-heatedly to some task or other, and that is the lesson Sunderland brings us. I salute her efforts.
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