Summary: The Pull of the Ocean by Jean-Claude Mourlevat is the story of seven brothers, six of whom are twins. The youngest, Yann, is not a twin. He is also a mute. One day, for fear of their safety from their father, Yann and his brothers decide to run away. And so begins their adventure. They come across many characters on their journey and of course bond together as siblings as they journey towards the ocean to see what awaits for them there.
Cultural Markers: This story takes place in France and the author himself is French and you can see it in his work. For example, the story is a play on the French nursery “Little Thumb.”Yann and all his brothers have French names like Remy and Pierre. The story also has real French locations, like Bordeaux. In 2007, this book won the Batchelder Award.
Personal Reflection: I feel like this book took a bit of a risk that ended up working out in the end. Even though it is not directly narrated by Yann, he is still considered the main protagonist of the story. This book is not for younger audiences, which is why I think having a ten year old protagonist was a risk. It is the hardship that Yann and his brother go through that make this a great book and regardless of the age of the protagonist, readers will still come to love the emotional ending. Another risk that ended up working so well was that we saw the story through the point of view of so many characters but in the end, it was all just one story. Some people may not like that we cannot directly see what is going on in Yanns head, but I think that’s what makes the overall theme work so well.
Review Excerpts: From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 5–8—A well-crafted mystery awaits anyone reading this fabled jigsaw puzzle.
From Publishers Weekly: Indeed, Mourlevat enchantingly blends the harshly real and the make-believe, with the latter tipping the balance as this effectively haunting, fluidly translated tale comes to a close. Ages 12-up.
Mourlevat, J., & Maudet, Y. (2006). The pull of the ocean. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385733488