An engaging story about a seemingly impossible expedition, Sophie Whittaker
August 24, 2021
Just imagine that you are sailing across the Antarctic ocean with snow and hail pelting down on you like needles from the sky. Then you hear a huge crack and suddenly the boat stops moving, you look over the side and the ocean is no more and all that is left is never-ending ice. You have 27 crew members on board and your boat is stuck… how are you going to survive?
Shackleton’s Endurance tells a story of the death-defying odds Ernest Shackleton’s crew had to fight against, during their renowned Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. When their boat gets submerged in the Antarctic sea they have to take refuge on ice floes and on a day to day basis must deal with excruciating hunger and thirst, perpetual coldness and interminable exhaustion. They take part in surreal activities, such as killing wildlife with mere boat oars or their bare hands to survive. The leaders and captains also have to make crucial decisions about the fate of their animal acquaintances.
“Everybody loves reading about daring individuals cheating death while they sip their tea over breakfast. As it turns out there’s money in suffering. Shackleton only hopes that on the “last great polar journey” there will not be too much of it.”
Ernest Shackleton is often referred to as The Boss. He has an inspiring optimistic attitude and stubborn confidence in his own knowledge. Ernest is not a stranger to the driest continent – he has been there many times to break records and explore.
All of his expeditions fail but Shackleton still manages to keep a smile on his face and he keeps trying. In my opinion, Ernest was one of the best leaders during the twentieth century – his whole crew of 27 looked up to him and followed his orders whatever the conditions.
“Glaciers spill from the interior like thick icing on a cake, and perpendicular cliffs drop straight into the churning seas. Dotted high on the rocks are the impossible rookeries of intrepid penguins, where no man in his right mind would consider following, even for a feed.”
Joanna Grochowicz has done a terrific job at using widespread exuberant vocabulary. I found myself asking Mr Google what most of the words meant! Her descriptive writing created a picture in my head and blew me away to Antarctica.
The book is written in third person format and gives the accounts of different characters’ feelings and actions throughout. There are pictures in the middle of the story that illustrates what life was like waiting for the seemingly impossible to happen and taking lethal risks to sustain your existence.
I would recommend this to readers twelve and over as there are small segments of the book that include some repulsive scenes. So don’t read it while you’re eating!
Readers who like Antarctica, real-life adventures and Ernest Shackleton will definitely be entertained by this book. While reading I found myself tugging at the oars in the lifeboats, seeing the snow fluttering down from above and holding my breath during life or death situations.
- Sophie is a Year 8 student from Awahono School.