Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby

Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Format: eGalley (courtesy of Netgalley)
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: 3.1.11
"I don't realize I'm crying until he glances at me. For a moment, I see the look of anguish in his eyes, then he blinks it away and slips off into the water. I immediately think of the gator. It's still down there somewhere. . . ."

A science-class field trip to the Everglades is supposed to be fun, but Sarah's new at Glades Academy, and her fellow freshmen aren't exactly making her feel welcome. When an opportunity for an unauthorized side trip on an airboat presents itself, it seems like a perfect escape—an afternoon without feeling like a sore thumb. But one simple oversight turns a joyride into a race for survival across the river of grass. Sarah will have to count on her instincts—and a guy she barely knows—if they have any hope of making it back alive.

Lost in the River of Grass takes on the classic survival genre using one of the country's most unique wild places as a backdrop. In this tense, character-driven thriller, Sarah must overcome prejudice and the unforgiving wilderness in a struggle to survive

This can't really happen, this can't really happen, there's no way! This can't....  This is what I found myself muttering over and over in my mind, as I read Lost in the River of Grass. It seemed impossible, what these characters went through. I was even compiling a list at the back of my mind of things I would Google to verify if they were possible. I mean, things like what I read in this book can't possibly happen! As it turns out, though, they can; and it didn't take Google to convince me of that.

In the book, the reader is taken along as Sarah and Andy work together to survive the Everglades...and believe me: this is about survival! We get to be there as they encounter gators, snakes, wild boars, and are put in many dangerous circumstances. We get to watch as they help each other grow and adapt; an element of the story I think Rorby did remarkably well. I even enjoyed Andy's character, though I initially saw him as a bit of a jerk. In the end I was grateful for that, because he acted like a normal 15-year-old boy. I praise Rorby for not writing a character who was 15, going on 25 (thank you!).

I don't remember the point where I stopped caring if a survival tactic was viable or not, or whether an animal would really react the way the author portrays. I lost all sense of disbelief in this crash-course to the everglades, somewhere between swimming the gator holes and  seeing the wild boars. Rorby's writing has an element of truth to it that made everything in this book seem personal, somehow. Reading it was like sitting at grandma's knee, listening to her tell a true story from her past...only this one involves saw grass and swamp trekking. Rorby definitely showed her survival know-how, and earned trust in my eyes. And the fact that reading about it all brought out every phobic tendency I've ever had, made no difference. I was enthralled.

Admittedly, I almost didn't give this book a second chance after putting it down after the first few chapters. It began a little choppy, and I wasn't very attached to the characters. But when I did pick it up again, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, and ended up finishing it in one sitting. I think I found it hard to read in the beginning because Lost in the River of Grass isn't filled with long, flowing prose. Neither does it use huge words, or attempt to captivate with an out-of-this-world love story. Truth-be-told,  it doesn't flaunt many things besides the character's reactions to the dangerous environment around them. But it's that very environment, and their reactions to it, that will suck you in, glue your hand to this book, and make you simultaneously cringe, while speeding up your reading to discover what is next.

I highly suggest Lost in the River of Grass!

Oh, and think this couldn't really happen? This quote is directly from Ginny Rorby's website:
"Lost in the River of Grass is based on the true story of my husband’s ill-fated trip to the Everglades with his then girlfriend in his airboat. While they were ‘visiting’ one of the hunting camps in the Everglades, the airboat sank. It took them three days to walk out. I wrote the original story of that ordeal for Fort Lauderdale’s Gulf Coast magazine, published in the late 1990s."

Read this if:
...You want a crash-course in surviving the Everglades, you have a natural fear of all things deadly, and you remembered to pack lots of water.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{ There were a handful of curses in this book, but nothing else inappropriate for younger readers.}

I initially chose to review this book today, because I thought there was more of a love story than there was. So today, you get a freebie! The phrase for the Books With Love giveaway (which starts 2/14) is:

Starry Eyed


  1. Sounds realllly good! :)

    Speaking of the Everglades: When the US was pushing Native Americans out of their lands, the Seminoles retreated into the Everglades. Because the US military couldn't hack the everglades they gave up trying to catch the Seminoles. The Everglades are serious business :)

    Great review!

  2. I'm so glad you pressed on and appreciate the lovely review. There are only three incidents in there that my husband didn't experience: the snake wrapped around Andy's ankle--that happened to my father and it was a coral snake; the palmetto bug swarm happened in our home in Winter Park when I was seven; and the python eating the alligator. When my husband walked out of the 'glades, there were no pythons. Now the place is crawling with them and there are pictures on the web of one eating an alligator then exploding. Thank you again, Ginny Rorby

  3. Juju: Interesting! I never knew that, but I want to learn more, now. I'm really interested in the Everglades after this book!

    Ginny Rorby: Thanks for visiting! I'm so glad you enjoyed my review, as I enjoyed your book very much! I'm still gaping at your comment. Everything besides those three things actually happened to your husband? *shivers* I can only imagine what that must have been like. Well, actually, I just read all about it. :) I am convinced that it takes a very brave person to be able to walk out of the Everglades. Thanks for stopping by!


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