Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12
- Grade: 8 to 12
- Reading age: 12
A sailing trip to the Caribbean might sound great, but sixteen-year-old Rachel can't stand being trapped on a small boat with her family. She misses her best friend and feels guilty about leaving her older sister Emma, who lives in a group home. Her father is driving her crazy with his schedules and rules, her brother is miserable, and there is never anyone her own age around. Worst of all, there is nowhere to go when her parents fight. While their boat is being repaired, the family spends a few weeks in a small Bahamian community, where Rachel and Tim discover a secret which turns their world upside down and threatens to destroy the fragile ties that hold their family together.
About the author
Robin Stevenson is the award-winning author of more than 25 books for kids and teens, including the board book Pride Colors, the picture book Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story and the nonfiction books Kid Activists and Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle. The first edition of her nonfiction book Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community (2016) won a Stonewall Honor and was shortlisted for numerous other awards. Robin lives in Victoria, British Columbia, where she attends Pride celebrations with her family every year, but always leaves her dog safely at home.
- Commended, CCBC Best Books
- Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Award - Children's Text nominee
- Short-listed, BC Book Prize - Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize nominee
- Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"
Excerpt: A Thousand Shades of Blue (by (author) Robin Stevenson)
Sailing in the Bahamas is a dream come true, right? Clear blue water, suntanning every day, cocktails on the deck with ice cubes clinking, tropical fish, brightly colored coral reefs.
"The feelings of the teenagers are conveyed with understanding and skill by Stevenson."
"It is well-written, well-paced, easy to read and conveys the message that there is no such thing as a perfect parent... Stevenson's conversational style is a great hook and her mastery of teen dialogue and teen angst is engaging. Highly recommended."
"A page-turning plot...Interesting characters and a creative setting."
"The characters are well drawn, the ending is realistic and believable, and the plot is reasonably paced. This is a readable, interesting book that would appeal to a teen reader."
"The writing's emotional honesty and realistic dialogue will appeal to many teens."
"A nice family to read about—complex without stereotypes, a family you are pulling for...The storyline develops the topics of autonomy, responsibility, sexual mores, and basic angst. It's well-done and brings up the idea of tolerance of shades of grey in life."
The Indextrious Reader blog
"This realistically gritty story is full of raw emotion...Teenage girls...will enjoy this first-person coming -of-age story."
Tri State Young Adult Book Review Committee
"Robin Stevenson writes engagingly for teens...and explores deep issues."
The Financial Post
"[Stevenson] eschews cliche in her keen and credible exploration of family dynamics... Readers looking for a family drama with adroit characterization, serious issues, and a little risky romance on the side should sign up for this voyage."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Rachel comes across as a real teen with whom readers will identify. Using the small boat as a setting highlights the cramped, suffocating feeling many young people have when spending a lot of time with parents and siblings. The book has no easy answers...giving the novel a refreshing realism."
School Library Journal
"Stevenson treats the family dynamic deftly and contextualizes it with her evocative representation of sailing. In her hands, the acts of learning to sail and learning to understand become graceful illuminations of the other."
Tucson Unified School District
"The author does a fantastic job of making each character relatable to teens...The book flows very smoothly, making it an easy read for teens."
Other titles by Robin Stevenson
True Tales of Childhood from Changemakers and Leaders
True Tales of Childhood from Inventors and Trailblazers
The Celebration and the Struggle
A Refugee Story
My Body My Choice
The Fight for Abortion Rights
LGBTQ2 Writers on Coming Out and Into Canada