by Kheryn Challender
No one would ever say, “Come and join us, Caroline,” so I would then spend the rest of the lunch period feeling sorry for myself and trying to remember that the lonely children like me are the ones who grow up to be someone that everyone wishes they could be.”
Hurricane Child by Kheryn Challender is a mystical novel set in the US Virgin Islands. Main character, Caroline Murphy was born during a hurricane, which is said to be bad luck among the people of Water Island. Caroline’s self-fulfilling prophecy, places her as the victim of exclusion by her peers, abandonment by her mother, and the constant struggle for social and self-acceptance.
Hurricane Child embraces the reader in the warmth of the Caribbean, enabling us to experience island life as inhabitants instead of a visitors. Challender brings the young protagonist on a journey to find her place in the world, while gracefully grappling with complex themes of bullying, abandonment, friendship, and concerns about acceptance when a young person first becomes aware of their sexual orientation. Hurricane Child is the winner of the Stonewall Book award and the Lambda Literary Award. Teachers champion it as an accessible text that enables gay and lesbian students to see themselves in our literature, as Caroline Murphy grows to understand herself.
Hurricane Child is recommended for students in grades four through middle school. Students say that Hurricane Child is both “mysterious and funny.” They hail the main character as a stubborn hero and are drawn to the intense friendship that Caroline finds with her best friend Khalinda.
He’ll still make mistakes sometimes, because he’s a human being, and I’ve learned now that this is what human beings are always destined to do. Including me”