by Heidi R Kling
published June 10th 2010
by Putnam Juvenile
Hardcover, 336 pages
Synopsis: Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother’s disappearance over the Indian ocean three years before, fifteen-year old California girl Sienna Jones reluctantly travels with her psychiatrist father’s volunteer team to six-months post-tsunami Indonesia where she meets the scarred and soulful orphaned boy, Deni, who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.
She knows they can’t be together, so why can’t she stay away from him? And what about her old best friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may or may not be waiting for her back home? And why won’t her dad tell her the truth about her mother’s plane crash? The farther she gets from home, the closer she comes to finding answers.
And Sea’s real adventure begins
Ever since I first read about Heidi’s book on Twitter I was intrigued by premise and elements of the story. The teasers started a creative flurry of activity for me of photos and jewelry, and I requested our local Barnes and Noble order it in. The wait has been long, but worth it. What an outstanding debut novel by Heidi R Kling. Sea is lyrically written from the eyes of Sienna, a young girl who suffers from PTSD and nightmares after losing her mother. Once filled with adventure and a love of the ocean, she has changed. When her father, a renowned world psychiatrist gifts her a trip to Indonesia with Team Hope, Sienna is forced to face her biggest fears. From her childhood friendship with a surfer named Spider, to touching lives at an orphanage in Yogyakarta; this book brought me to tears. It’s one that leaves you thinking and feeling hopeful for the power of change. Love overcomes loss as Deni shows Sienna that a choice must be made to live each new day. SEA will stick with you for a long time as will the impressions of post-tsunami recovery in Indonesia. It’s a meaningful, culturally rich novel with purpose. And this is one of those reviews where I feel like words aren’t adequate to describe my experience. So much of SEA is what I felt inside.
Thanks to Heidi R Kling for sharing her talent and answering a few questions as part of an exclusive interview for BIR2010.
Tell us about your book.
SEA is a romantic adventure about hope after disaster, set in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.
Did you do any traveling or face to face interviews for SEA?
I have traveled quite a bit, but have never been to Indonesia. I interviewed by husband, who volunteered at a real Indonesian orphanage after the disaster and a female volunteer as well as two orphaned boys (via email).
What are some of the life lessons your characters have to face and how do they apply to today’s teens?
I think everyone can resinate with the idea of hope and loss. The human experience is checkered with these feelings. Part of the human experience is also hanging on to hope; that things will improve, get better. Maybe most American teens cannot relate to a tsunami washing over their village, but hopelessness is a common teen feeling. I hope SEA helps them realize these feelings are temporary. There is always, like my grandpa used to say, sunshine in the morning.
PTSD and natural disasters are explored in SEA. What advice would you give to someone who has survived a tragedy?
Let yourself grieve. It is a normal human reaction. It’s okay to be sad. It’s also okay to ask for help. PTSD is a psychiatric condition that you should seek medical help for.
What has been your most rewarding experience since writing SEA?
The readers, definitely. I think SEA is a smallish book, meaning it didn’t get a lot of fanfare or marketing from my publisher, but the readers have fallen in love with it. That means the world to me.
Any new projects coming up?
I’m writing a fantasy trilogy about estranged witches and warlocks. It’s like a Romeo and Juliet with magic story. I’m also contributing to anthologies, both this fall’s Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls, and Spring/2011 TRUTH & DARE.
What’s on your Chrsitmas list this year?
So funny you asked. For the first time in five years I have a long, long list for Santa. Short, grey Ugg boots are on there, the Eclipse DVD (my husband surprised me last night and gave it to be early!), a beach cruiser with a basket and a little horn. I’ve always wanted a little horn.
What books have most influenced your life?
John Green’s LOOKING FOR ALASKA influenced the way I thought about YA. Made me delve deeper with SEA. Toni Morrison’s BELOVED made me realize how incredibly rich modern prose could be. Judy Blume’s books taught me about everything else. 😉
Favorite writing snack?
Peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s. Frozen. In large handfuls.
You may also want to visit the SEA Flickr gallery with photos which reminded me of the book at http://www.flickr.com/photos/heatherzahngardner/galleries/72157624488461623/