Evelyn Hatfield sets out to be the first to reach the mythological land of Methania. But before her epic journey can begin, she must first suffer high school jealousies, the apathy of conformity, and a pair of clueless parents--all while learning to sail.
Through chance, and a few innocent manipulations and half-truths, Evelyn finally sets sail for the distant horizon where she and her stowaway monkey, Bobo, do battle with their most fearsome enemy, the weather... and lose. Shipwrecked on a tiny island, 4,000 miles from home, she meets Fender Spigot, an equally shipwrecked explorer from Methania who, having never heard a language other than his own, gibber-jabbers his way into her heart.
Regardless of their communication issues, they manage to help each other escape the island—Evelyn, sailing east, and Fender, west—only to discover that absence makes the heart grow fonder. But how can they, again, find each other with such a monstrous ocean and a thousand misunderstandings between them?
*May Contain Spoilers*
Evelyn dear Fender, by Rodney Jones, is a novel of discovery, symmetry, and adventure. This novel takes place either in the future or on a planet similar to ours. Evelyn has heard stories all her life about explorers who tried to reach Methania, a fabled continent, never to be heard from again. Her dream: She wants to be the first explorer to find it and return.
First off, the way this book is written is funny in itself. The language used is similar to how we use it, but there are some obvious differences right away. Words have evolved further and it takes a few chapters to get used to the substitutions Jones has made. Evelyn is the main character and when readers first see her, she's a young dreamer. As a few years pass, Evelyn becomes an intelligent, hopeful, courageous girl who suddenly remembers that she wanted to sail across the world. Readers will be able to relate their dream to Evelyn's and make a connection with her. They'll see how much Evelyn wants this to happen that she's willing to do anything for it, even commit herself to a deep denial that nothing could *really* go wrong.
When Evelyn crashes into an island, after a big storm, Fender is formally introduced. Fender is from the opposite side of the world and speaks a very different language (same words, different meanings) than Evelyn. Of course, they both think the other is insane, at first. It's very interesting how Jones wrote this new language and included parenthetical translations for his readers. The words and translations give humor to a dire situation. Fender is sweet, brave, helpful, and even gets a chance to be heroic. As the two communicate, trying to escape the island, Evelyn and Fender fall in love. They both think that they need to return to the respective families, and not to spoil the end but they don't. :)
With both characters so likeable it's easy to enjoy this fun, adventurous novel. I only really had one problem with it. On the way back from the island, Evelyn runs out of food and is slowly starving. I know this gives the book a sense of urgency and fear, but all I could think was 'She should have brought a fishing pole.'
However, the main thing I want to discuss is the symmetry of the world. There's a map at the beginning of the book that helps but it's described as two continents with an "entwine" or "eye" in the middle. And each citizen on one continent has a soul mate on the opposite. Rodney Jones gave the story a good creative spin when he came up with this idea. Very unique and interesting. And readers will notice it as Evelyn and Fender are described similarly and their outlooks on life align. Evelyn dear Fender was such a fun novel to read full of interesting language and dangerous adventure.
Rating: 4.5/5 Cups
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