When guerrilla soldiers strike Santiago's village, they shoot at everyone in their path. Dos Vías is on fire, and the night glows red. "Take the cayuco
and sail to the United States of America. Now go!" Santiago's uncle Ramos tells him, and Santiago, twelve, and his four-year-old sister, Angelina, flee.
With a map, a machete, and very little food, Santiago and Angelina set sail in their uncle Ramos's sea kayak, built for just such an escape, but not for a sailor who is only a boy. Santiago heads for the United States on a voyage that will take them through narrow channels guarded by soldiers, shark, infested waters, and days of painful heat and raging storms. Santiago knows that he and Angelina probably will die trying to make the voyage, but they certainly will die at the hands of rebels or government soldiers if they do not try.
In this tale of courage, survival, and triumph, Ben Mikaelsen introduces readers to a danger and fear that is far too real for many children, and he reminds us of the responsibility and power that the world's richest nation bears to help end it.