The House on Sunrise Lagoon: Marina in the Middle (The House on Sunrise Lagoon, 2)

The House on Sunrise Lagoon: Marina in the Middle (The House on Sunrise Lagoon, 2)
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Release Date
May 09, 2023
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Return to Sunrise Lagoon in this warmhearted sequel, which finds anxious middle child Marina making waves on her journey to trusting herself.

If you want to get to know Marina Ali-O'Connor, you need to know three things:

One, despite her name, Marina is secretly afraid of the water.

Two, she wanted to be one of the Oldest Siblings, but is stuck smack dab in the middle.

Three, she's pretty certain she's the Extra Ali-O'Connor kid—the forgotten one.

When Boom, a budding filmmaker exactly Marina's age, moves in across the lagoon, she decides that Marina's quest to become someone's favorite Ali-O'Connor would make a perfect documentary. But when each plan goes a little bit wrong, Marina begins to wonder if she'll ever feel like she belongs, or if she'll always be lost in the middle.

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Marina thinks that boats are a bad idea!
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Marina was adopted into the Ali-O'Connor family when she was very young, and lives with her two mothers in Sunrise Lagoon, New Jersey. She gets along with sisters Harbor and the recently adopted Sam, as well as younger twin siblings Cordelia and Lir, but she is struggling with Mama. Marina doesn't like boats, and doesn't want to ride on the family one for the annual Parade of Lights before school starts. Mama says that if Marina doesn't improve her attitude, she will need to talk to a counselor to work through her issues with boats which are, after all, the family business. Marina doesn't feel that boats or the ocean are safe, and when the family goes to the beach and Cordelia wanders off even though the family specifically talks through a lot of safety issues, Marina is determined that she will not ride on the boat. She comes up with some schemes to disable the boat with her new friend Bernadette (called "Boom") that are decidedly NOT safe, and Mama talks to her about her own personal anxiety about a number of issues. Can Marina make peace with her fears and feel secure within her family?

Good Points
Family structres have changed a lot in the last 30 years, and it's always good to see families with a blend of biological and adopted children. Both Mama and Mom are actively involved with the raising of the children, and the squabbles that the sisters (and Lir!) have are true to life.

I especially enjoyed that the children's origins were all respected and considered. Marina is a bit troubled by the fact that Sam was adopted as an older child and is close to her own age; she was expecting her moms to adopt a baby. Because of the different levels of stress the children feel, talking to a counselor is always an option. In the previous book, Sam Makes a Splash, Sam was seeing a professional to work through her issues, and Marina is also given this opportunity.

This is more lighthearted than Melleby's The Science of Being Angry, but shows similar sibling interactions. Smith's Code Name Serendipity has a similar family structure, and Callaghan's Saltwater Secrets has a similar setting. It's interesting to see that there has been a bit of progress made with the acceptance of LGBTQIA+ families: the whole plot of Gennari's 2012 My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer revolved around the fact that the family with two mothers is not accepted. Things aren't perfect, but there has been incremental progress.

Because I was not familiar with the Jersey Shore, I admit to looking up some of the street views on Google Earth. Let me tell you: Marina has more to worry about than boats. Like the Florida Keys, the lagoons in New Jersey seem like a very bad place to live. One good storm, and the family would be up to its ears in water. However, having spent a great deal of her life living in a community that thinks it's a good idea to build roads over water, you would have thought she would have realized that with proper training and safety measures, a boat would be a decently safe option. (Apologize to people who think that living close to water is a good idea. Clearly, I have a fear of this!)
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