The House on Sunrise Lagoon: Sam Makes a Splash (The House on Sunrise Lagoon, 1)

The House on Sunrise Lagoon: Sam Makes a Splash (The House on Sunrise Lagoon, 1)
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Release Date
May 09, 2023
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From an acclaimed author comes a cheerful, uplifting story of family and belonging, the first in a series perfect for fans of the Vanderbeekers and the Penderwicks.

If you want to get to know eleven-year-old Samantha Ali-O’Connor, you need to know three things:

One, she isn’t the only one of her siblings who is adopted, but she is the only one whose name isn't inspired by the ocean.

Two, she and Harbor always compete with each other to be the best Oldest Sibling—and just about everything else.

And three, she is determined to prove she's a real Ali-O'Connor by taking over the family business, repairing and chartering boats.

Except there's a Capital-P Problem: Her mothers have been Serious Whispering about selling the business before summer's end! Sam needs to come up with a plan, quick, before Harbor finds out. And before Sam loses her chance to inherit the business and be an Ali-O'Connor forever. 

Editor review

1 review
Summer in New Jersey
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The Ali-O'Connors live in New Jersey on a lagoon near the seaside. Mom repairs boats and takes people out in her boat, and Mama teaches and helps with the business' bookkeeping. Sam was adopted after being fostered by the family, and joins siblings Marina (who is also adopted and has Mexican heritage) and Harbor, as well as seven year old twins Cordelia and Lir who have Mama's Syrian ancestry. The children know that summer has started when the Badger brothers arrive to stay with their grandparents, and the summer activities begin. This is hard for Sam, because she hasn't learned to swim well, which is a problem given where they live. She is also concerned that she has caused the family financial difficulty, since her adoption was expensive, and the boat business isn't doing well. She is saving her money from doing chores to help, especially when Mom sells boats to Joe Koch, and Sam thinks that Mom might sell the business and go work for him. Cordelia and Lir get involved and ask everyone in their community for help, which wasn't exactly what the grownups wanted! The Badger brothers entice the siblings into taking some risky chances, but things work out. Sam really wants to take over the boat business when she grows up, because it makes her feel like she is part of the family, but will the business still be there?

Good Points
Children worry more about family finances than parents realize, so it was interesting that Sam was worried for the family. The mix of biological and adopted children is discussed freely, which is a bit of a change from a few years ago, and Sam visits her grandmother in an assisted living facility, and Marina talks about visiting with her father. The desire to be part of a large family still persists today, even though there are not nearly as many large families in the 2020s-- the suggested power of The Brady Bunch lingering on, perhaps?

I have noticed that many of my students don't know how to swim, and this seems particularly dangerous. Sam's attempts to learn, even though fraught with difficulty, were an especially good conclusion. I have to admit that I don't quite understand the topography of the New Jersey lagoon, but anyone living near water should certainly have this skill.

The blurb for this compared it to Birdsall's The Penderwicks or Glaser's The Vanderbeekers, but this seems more like Levy's Misadventures of The Family Fletcher, especially The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island, and has a bit in common with Donoghue's The Lotterys.
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