Thursday, January 27, 2011

In June 2010 America was consumed by the story of Abby Sunderland, and now it is being retold in the book Unsinkable that is set to hit bookstores in April. Thomas Nelson has signed a deal with the teenager to tell her story of how she set out at 16 to become the youngest sailor in history to circumvent the globe alone. To help write the memoir, Abby has been partnered with best-selling collaborator Lynn Vincent who has helped on other books, such as Same Kind of Different as Me, Heaven Is for Real, and Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue.

Abby’s story is one that should make for exciting reading. If you remember, she set sail in her boat Wild Eyes on January 23, 2010, from Marina Del Rey, California, in her quest to sail solo around the world, a feat her brother Zac had accomplished at seventeen. He held the title briefly, but others soon triumphed also. Australia’s Jessica Watson completed her journey just days before turning 17 in May 2010.

As Abby pushed off on her exciting journey, her website provided information along the way. As of June 8, she had completed a 2,100 mile distance from South Africa to north of the Kerguelen Islands, but another 2,100 miles lay ahead to the southwest tip of Australia. After she encountered 60 knot winds that broke her mast and ruined satellite phone reception, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority began a search for Abby.

I can only imagine the agony Abby’s family must have endured as they asked for prayer for their daughter. At the time they had no idea if she was in a life raft or aboard the boat, or if the boat was even afloat. Their distress was increased by the fact that she was hundreds of miles from land and the nearest ship was 400 miles away.

As America watched on television, the story became the main topic of conversation. Thankfully, Abby’s story had a happy ending. When rescuers reached her, the boat was taking on water, but she was coping with the situation and was in good health.

In releasing news of the publishing deal, Thomas Nelson senior vice president and publisher Brian Hampton said, “I believe that while she may not have reached her destination, she certainly achieved her destiny. What she accomplished and endured would be remarkable for a person of any age … that she did it as a sixteen-year-old is amazing. Abby is the youngest person (boy or girl) ever to solo around Cape Horn, which is considered the ‘Mt. Everest of sailing.’”

The book is expected to sail to the top of the charts. While it may do so, there are still those who wonder why any parent would allow a sixteen-year-old to attempt such a dangerous mission? As a mother, I wonder if I could have supported my child in an endeavor like that at such a young age. On the other hand, my children weren’t trained for such adventures, and I don’t take a judgmental view of those who feel their children can handle such tasks.

What do you think? Do you think parents should encourage their children to push the envelope at such an early age or not? Will you buy the book to get a first-hand account of Abby’s adventure? I’m interested in your answer.


  1. Sorry, ThomasNelson, I won't buy the book. I think because the story unfolded in the media, and thus on the net, why bother plunking down 10, 15, 20 bucks for a book that tells me much of what I already know. But that's just me. Am I a book-grinch or what?

  2. I remember this! And I specifically remember shaking my head and wondering what kind of parents could let their teenager launch on such an endeavor alone. Not to say I wouldn't let my kids try something...just not alone. I'd be right there alongside them even if I had to learn to sail a boat and throw an anchor.

    As for buying the book...well I have to disagree with Sandra. I think I would, just to see what thoughts went through Abby's head (I have a daughter with the same name, btw).

  3. I probably won't buy the book, only because I don't read non fiction that often. However, I remember when this story unfolded in the press.

    I would NEVER allow my child to sail across the world alone. And I'm kinda surprised the parents didn't get into legal trouble for something like that.

    What if she'd died? Couldn't they have been charged? I'm glad she made it alright, but it almost went the other way. :/


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