Red Kayak, by Priscilla Cummings, tells the story of three teenage boys dealing with life changes when a nearby property they previously considered their own is sold. This forces the main character and narrator, Brady Parks, and his two friends to be faced with learning to let go of nostalgic attachments and move on. However, when a kayaking accident occurs with a young boy, Ben, (whose family just moved into the teenagers’ old turf) that results in Ben’s death, new questions are raised. The three year old Ben, who nearly drowns when out on his family’s red kayak with his mother and shortly thereafter passes away, raises suspicions of foul play, especially when Brady takes notice of the strange timing of this event.
I initially chose to read this story after learning the premise of the book; that it was a bit of a coming of age story about how relationship change over time, but also with more serious, somber undertones. Once reading this book, I found myself very emerged in the story as Cummings did a magnificent job of creating compelling, three dimensional characters. Even when acting completely immorally, you as a reader find yourself relating to the humanity of the characters, a testament to the writing abilities of the author.
I would recommend this story to young teenagers and older preteens who will be able to understand the complexity of the decisions the characters make and analyze what drives them to follow through with their poor decision. The novel The Red Kayak had many themes and morals that it attempted to convey to the young people reading it, making it a very enriching book.