Lalani of the Distant Sea is a creative, captivating and surprising story that keeps you wondering what is happening next. Erin Entrada Kelly brings the reader on an imaginative and moving journey as a 12-year-old girl does everything she can and more to try to save a sick boy from the village, her own mother, and everyone else in the village from mysterious forces that the village has been trying to find for years on end. The author reminds you of what has happened without unnecessary repetition and explains important characters to the reader by putting the reader in the characters’ shoes. If Kelly’s goal was to provide a story that stretches one’s imagination, picturing these other types of living creatures and places, they have more than succeeded.
Starting this book, I got the impression it was sort of like a Filipinx Moana. In the story line, chaos turns into a journey across the sea, and many other characters reminded me of those in the Disney film. I was pleasantly surprised as I got further in the book, there was a significant attention-grabbing reveal. It was easy to find myself reading for longer than expected because the ends and beginnings of the sections left me needing to continue. Many times in the book I also found myself feeling proud of and inspired by the characters. So many times I had to pause and just digest what I was reading because the storyline was able to make something so big out of prior hints.
This fictional novel was a great break from reality, especially during the pandemic, and left me craving more. I found myself wanting to know more about characters, where they ended up, what the world looked like a year from then. If you are looking for a mysterious, curious and exploratory novel, this is definitely a book you should read. If you are looking for a book about family, sacrifice, risk and perseverance, you should pick this up and start as soon as you can.