Destiny at Dolphin Bay (Desert Island Diaries #1)
Heart Ally Books
August 3, 2021
About Destiny at Dolphin Bay
God always has a purpose. We always have a choice.
In this compelling Genesis Award finalist, fifteen-year-old Melissa Travis finds herself floundering into uncharted waters when she is exiled from her Christian high school. Dreading a month of “mom talks” over endless cups of tea, she accepts her missionary sister’s invitation to visit the remote Chiloé Islands of southern Chile. There she discovers a world utterly unlike the South Pacific paradise she imagined, where dire poverty dwells with enchanting beauty, and ancient customs conspire with modern corruption. While a pod of playful dolphins casts an irresistible spell, sinister evil simmers beneath the surface.
A suspicious drowning, a ghost ship, and a shaman’s chilling prediction of her death on the island force Melissa to question everything she believes. Amid the storm of human greed and natural disasters, a soulful young islander inspires her to make life-changing choices, while faith and friendship draw her to reckon with destiny.
I found it really easy to get lost in this story. The relationships between the characters felt real– especially between Melissa and her sister and Melissa and Nico. I liked that romance wasn’t the central theme of the book. There’s a bit of attraction between Melissa and Nico, but other events seem to keep them from exploring their feelings, like an earthquake and a possible crime operation threatening the people they love.
The book is set in 1990, so it’s historical fiction. Some of the phrases Melissa used seemed more dated than that, but maybe they were still being used in Maryland, where she’s from, in the 90s? I’m not sure, as I’m from Florida, so I am giving the benefit of the doubt there. They did make Melissa sound pretty sheltered as a person, which fit her character.
The setting is amazing. I felt like I could see the places described in each scene, and that added a lot to the story for me. I loved the adventure of the dolphins and the earthquake rescue and trying to uncover the truth about the ghost ship and possible nefarious activities it was masking. Melissa’s journey to deeper faith also really resonated with me. I loved the way some of her moments of awakening were described.
This is a super old-school comparison, but I feel like readers who enjoyed the Christian classic CHRISTY by Catherine Marshall or books by Julie Cantrell or Carla Stewart would really enjoy this book.
Note: I was a beta reader for this book several years ago, so my name is listed among the beta readers in the acknowledgments.
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Melissa and her family are white. Her close friends Nicolás and Marco are Chilean.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
The story is told from a Christian perspective and features a few scriptures and stories from the Bible. A local religious leader uses local beliefs and superstitions to cover up crimes or manipulate others.
A man drowns to death. Melissa attends an open casket wake for him. A violent earthquake destroys the town where Melissa is staying and kills some of the people there.
Brief mention of people getting drunk as part of a ritual. Melissa also got expelled from her school over an incident that involved injecting oranges with alcohol.
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