Book Review: The Bravest Woman in America by Marissa Moss

bravest woman in america

The Bravest Woman in America by Marissa Moss, illustrated by Andrea U’Ren

Ida Lewis loved the sea, from the crash of the waves to the bite of the ocean air.  When her father got a job as a lighthouse keeper, she was thrilled.  He had to cross back and forth twice a day to check the light, and he took Ida with him, teaching her how to row.  He also taught her to care for the lamp and how to rescue people without capsizing herself.  When Ida turned 15, her family moved out to live next to the lighthouse.  Ida dreamed of becoming the keeper herself one day.  That day came early when her father got ill and could no longer care for the lighthouse.  So Ida helped more and more.  Though she had never rescued anyone, she rowed out to save some boys in a sailboat that capsized.  It took all of her determination and strength to save them, but she did.

This book works on so many levels.  It is a true story about a real hero who defied what society expected of her and became what she dreamed of.  Additionally, it is the story of a girl who was strong, brave and amazing.  A girl who relied on her own strength and wits to save others rather than to be rescued herself.  Beautiful. 

Moss writes the story with drama and action, yet is never heavy handed.  She builds up to the accident nicely, showing it happen and then building to the climax of the rescue.  This is an rescue story that will have readers cheering.

U’Ren’s art is done in watercolor, ink and acrylic.  The colors are deep and lovely, from the changing colors of the sky to the blues and greens of the water that change with the storm.  Ida Lewis is always shown as a young lady, never masculinized at all.  It adds to the charm and drama of the story.

Highly recommended, this is a great book choice for women’s history units or for any child to learn that girls are heroes too.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Tricycle Press.