Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Sea in Winter by Christine Day

The Sea in Winter Cover Art

The Sea in Winter by Christine Day
HarperCollins / Heartdrum
Publication Date: January 5, 2021
ISBN: 978-0062872043

Maisie, a Makah/Piscataway middle schooler, is in a dark place. A serious ballet dancer who dreams of a career as a ballerina, competitive summer academies, and a life filled with movement, Maisie has been unable to dance since a serious knee injury early in the first semester. Maisie isolates herself from her friends and family and begins to sink into depression. A family hiking trip over winter break brings her emotions, physical limitations and dreams all crashing to a head. 

The Sea in Winter is a quiet title that connects the reader to Maisie and her family and explores identity and family with a hopeful tone. Maisie is a younger teen, and Day does an excellent job of capturing the feelings and experiences of someone exploring who they are and who they want to be. Another layer of identity explores the rich connection with her mother’s tribal history with the Makah and her lack of connection to her biological father’s family and tribal connections in the Piscataway community. Maisie’s exploration of her tribal histories and Indigenous identity is beautifully woven into the story. 

Give this title to readers who enjoy character-driven books like newly updated Rain is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Christine Day’s debut novel, I Can Make This Promise. 

Amanda Kordeliski (she/her)

Other Nominated Titles

  • Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston (January 19, 2021)
  • The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson (June 15, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.