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Book Review

Overboard! by Terry Lynn Johnson has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Survivor Diaries” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

While vacationing in Washington state, 11-year-old Travis and his family take a whale-watching tour in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The captain’s 12-year-old daughter, Marina, points out different types of whales to Travis. They see humpbacks, killer whales and other marine life.

Suddenly, Travis finds himself plunged into the water. He hears someone say a whale has attacked the boat. Dazed, he sees Marina struggling in the waves. She’s broken her wrist. He pulls her up and helps her hold on to a board. They’re too far from the lifeboat to get on, and they find themselves alone in the waves of the cold water. Although Marina is weak, she shares information about the wind and sea and survival as they float.

Travis is alarmed to see the head of a sea creature in the water nearby. Marina assures him it’s just a harbor seal. Her father’s boat is called the Selkie, a mythological creature that’s half human and half seal. She says this creature is just coming along to look after them. The kids fight waves and currents until they reach the shore of an island.

Travis does some calisthenics to warm up, and then puts Marina’s wrist in a makeshift splint and starts a fire. Marina is fading in and out of consciousness. Travis talks to her as he builds a tent for them. He assures her that, despite the fog and rough waves, rescuers will find them tomorrow.

After spending the night vomiting, Marina is conscious the next day. Travis knows they will die without water, so he goes in search of a stream. He settles for mopping dew off of plants and squeezing it into a water bottle.

While Marina drinks, he tells her how he and a friend once snuck into the gym to swing on a high bar. Travis fell and got a concussion, and his mother has been watching him closely ever since. He can no longer be in high places without feeling shaky.

The kids decide to gather green plants. Used on the fire, they will make smoke for a signal. Travis also remembers a science project his sister did. She used plants in a bag to create condensation and water.

Marina sees an eagle and realizes she knows their location. She tells Travis there is a camera by the eagle’s nest so people can watch the birds online. She says he has to climb up and signal to the camera to get help.

The thought of climbing terrifies Travis. Then he realizes he’s done a lot of other things to help them survive. He just needs to believe he can do this. As Travis climbs, he tries not to think too hard about the height or the pain in his limbs. He signals to the camera before falling to a lower branch. Speaking encouragingly to himself, he manages to return to the ground.

The next day a rescue boat arrives to save them. Travis shares his story with a reporter months later. He mentions that he and Marina still video chat weekly, and both plan to be marine biologists. He also says he’s back on the gymnastics team at school.

A bonus section at the end of the book offers details about hypothermia and cold-water survival tips.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Marina’s father has taught her many things about survival and water safety. Travis’ attentive parents are particularly watchful after his concussion.


The words sucked and butt each appear once. A whale knocks the children out of their boat, and they are too far from the lifeboat to get on it.



Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

7 to 10


Terry Lynn Johnson






Record Label



Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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