Genre: Historical fiction, adventure
Reading level: 6.6

Charlotte Doyle is an American girl who has lived for the past seven years at a boarding school for girls in England. She is commissioned to sail with another family back to Rhode Island when the school year is finished. When she arrives at the ship, the other families are not there. She must sail alone, a child, a girl alone with a crew of men, for the several months it takes to cross the Atlantic. She is warned by the cook that the Captain is not a good man but she doesn’t believe him. He is of a very low class and a black man. Charlotte is from a privileged class, used to the finer things in life. She has never been without a chaperone. Ever. How will she face the perils that lie ahead?

Charlotte starts out slow by design. It is to compare the wild adventure that lies ahead with her heretofore staid, placid life. The ‘true confessions’ in the title refer to the journal she keeps that her father will insist upon reading when she arrives. The journal also helps her realize that the journey she is undertaking, full of betrayal, madness, hurricanes, and threat of hanging, are, in fact, happening. What fun she will have telling her adventures to her younger siblings. But after such an exploit, how can she return to a life of corsets and quiet teas?

I enjoyed watching Charlotte change from a mouse to a lion. Even so, I was shocked by her decision after returning to her parents. What keeps this book firmly in the tween range, 9-12, is that Charlotte doesn’t incur any danger that has to do with her being female. She is treated as any other of the crew once she joins their ranks, but she is never threatened sexually. My thoughts as she rejoined the crew was that she came through as a girl this time, but next time she might not be so lucky. As a 13 year old girl, hidden from the world until now, there is no way she would be able to make such a decision or know how the world of men really works.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle is a Newbery Honor book and has earned many other citations. The movie version is expected out in 2014.

Avi (1992). The true confessions of Charlotte Doyle. New York, N.Y: Avon Books.
Isbn: 0380714752