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Thirteen-year-old Joey Willis is used to being left out of conversations. Though she's been deaf since the age of six, Joey's mother has never allowed her to learn sign language. She strains to read the lips of those around her, but often fails. Everything changes when Joey meets Dr. Charles Mansell and his baby chimpanzee, Sukari. Her new friends use sign language to communicate, and Joey secretly begins to learn to sign. Spending time with Charlie and Sukari, Joey has never been happier. She even starts making friends at school for the first time. But as Joey's world blooms with possibilities, Charlie's and Sukari's choices begin to narrow; until Sukari's very survival is in doubt.
Lost in a River of Grass is in the tradition of survival stories like Hatchet or On My Side of the Mountain, where the young protagonist finds herself as she struggles to survive in an unforgiving wilderness. In this case, the setting is the Everglades, and Sarah, the 13-year-old narrator, sneaks away from an overnight school field trip for what was supposed to be a quick airboat ride with Andy, a boy who lives in the preserve. Naturally, disaster strikes and theyre forced to walk out of the Everglades (theyve got a knife, a small amount of Gatorade and some suspicious Spam). The author also skillfully layers in a story about overcoming prejudice. Sarah is black and Andy is the son of a Confederate-flag waving self-described redneck.
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