It's not often that you read a book and find yourself thinking, "I wish the hero would sue his father for custody of his two little brothers." I couldn't get into this book because I sympathized with the hero so much: his dad really does make insane, selfish choices and just expect his three newly-motherless sons to follow merrily along. Who takes a five-year-old who can't swim on a sailboat trip around the world? Apparently, this guy.
The book is well-written, but it does occasionally sink into enough sailing jargon to lose the reader. I was surprised that the survival-in-the-wild section of the story took up so little of the book, since the book information made it out to be Hatchet on the high seas. I did enjoy the interplay between the three brothers, even as I pitied the eldest for having to grow up so quickly. I didn't doubt for a moment that the book would end the way it did, because I knew Ben couldn't leave his younger brothers. I didn't quite believe his forgiveness of his father, though, because his father offered no apology for almost getting them all killed on a harebrained whim.
Recommend to: Age 11-13, Paulsen fans, boys