When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin


Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher

Pinmei’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.

Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei’s grandmother–before it’s too late.

It feels like it has been a little while since I wrote for The Book Wars. Or perhaps I only feel this way due to the tremendous upheavals in the world–or the world as it pertains to me.

Either ways, I am glad that I return to the fold with this gem of a novel. When the Sea Turned to Silver was my introduction to Grace Lin’s writing and I am a bit peeved at myself that I let so much time elapse before checking out her work.

When the Sea Turned to Silver is such a tremendous achievement in storytelling that I hardly know how to speak about it. Lin uses a very interesting technique to tell her story. Ordinarily, I would say she utilizes a framing technique but…that’s not quite it. Pinmei and her grandmother are storytellers and the mini stories sprinkled throughout the narrative don’t just add depth and history to the primary narrative but also, subtly, slyly, move the primary story forward.

I can’t say any more without spoiling things so I will refrain.

The use of fables and folklore with such mastery in conjunction with refreshing characters who strive despite tremendous odds against them makes When the Sea Turned to Silver a success. The novel deserves a place in your collection for the stories it tells and for the dreams it will encourage in its readers.

Additionally, the physical book is so beautifully constructed that it is a work of art. Thick, high quality paper, beautiful illustrations and typography make When the Sea Turned to Silver a collector’s item and one that will be welcomed by any adventure-loving child in your home. Strongly recommended.