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Here Upon The Tide by Blair McMillan

When Amir's city in Syria is bombed as civil war breaks out, his family makes a fateful decision. Amir soon finds himself on a perilous journey by land and sea, with little hope of reaching his decision.

Milly is still reeling from the aftermath of earthquakes in her home city of Christchurch. Her only reprieve is the sea, surfing in Sumner and paddleboarding to Boulder Bay. Out on the water one morning she sees something that forces her to risk her life to a complete stranger.

Here Upon The Tide follows the two teens as they forge an unlikely connection as one seeks safety and the other redemption.

The book is told through the teens, with each chapter alternating between the two. While sometimes this format can be hard to follow in other books, that isn't the case here. Both Amir and Milly are well-developed, unique characters, each with a strong voice. They have their flaws and aren't afraid to acknowledge them, which is a refreshing change.

Author Blair McMillan touches on several important themes - the plight of refugees, the impact of natural disasters, mental health and the importance of human connection. He imparts important lessons in a simple yet heartfelt way, encouraging and challenging readers to examine their own beliefs and thoughts. They are some heavy topics, but McMillan manages to write openly about the realities without weighing the story down. The spark of hope and growth threaded through Milly and Amir's stories helps with this.

McMillan sets a cracking pace with the story, forever urging the reader to continue. I became so wrapped up in the story, eager to find out what would happen to both characters; it was a one-sitting reading session until the early hours of the morning.

Here Upon The Tide is a gripping read that will stick with readers for a long time.

Bateman Books

Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell


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