Review: Girl of the Southern Sea

Title: Girl of the Southern Sea
Author: Michelle Kadarusman
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 23, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


This was a fantastic story! It was exciting and suspenseful.

This was a fast paced story. I almost read all of it in one sitting. There were many impactful scenes, such as a bus crash and a fight at the market. Even though these were scenes where bad things happened, they would make an impact on the reader because of how sudden and life changing they were for the characters. It made for a thrilling story.

This book deals with some serious issues such as child marriage and the lack of available education for young girls in certain parts of the world. I’m sure some kids in Western countries couldn’t even imagine these kinds of things happening to girls like them. It was chilling to read about, because there is nothing the girls can do in these situations to save themselves. Nia was lucky in this story, but most girls aren’t as lucky.

I really enjoyed this novel! I highly recommend it for middle grade readers!

What to read next:

The Theory of Hummingbirds by Michelle Kadarusman

Swallow’s Dance by Wendy Orr

Have you read Girl of the Southern Sea? What did you think of it?


Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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