This is the third book by Richards that centers around Jabu the young South African man who found meaning in teaching surfboarding and helping kids get off the street and into a caring home. In this novel, we find Jabu traveling to New Zealand to coach his friend Kyle. Once in New Zealand Jabu meets Nikau and his sister, Pania. Jabu experiences his first kiss, first time skiing, snowboarding, and his first volcano.
As is typical of Richards, there is plenty of adventure, a few tense moments, and a lot of growing up. Richards does a great job of writing about the struggles involved with coming of age, especially for children who experience hardships early in life. The story has a little bit of religion in it as the children are taught to know they are loved by God and it is clear that this is the first love they experience.
I am a big fan of Richards’ books because they do offer so much adventure for older elementary and middle school-age kids without making the stories too much for that age level. She has a terrific ability to deal with real hardships in a gritty way without going too far. This is another great coming of age story!