A Thousand Shades of Blue


The water is fine but Rachel is in way over her head.

A sailing trip to the Caribbean might sound great, but sixteen-year-old Rachel can’t stand being trapped on a small boat with her family. She misses her best friend and feels guilty about leaving her older sister Emma, who lives in a group home. Her father is driving her crazy with his schedules and rules, her brother is miserable, and there is never anyone her own age around. Worst of all, there is nowhere to go when her parents fight. While their boat is being repaired, the family spends a few weeks in a small Bahamian community, where Rachel and Tim discover a secret which turns their world upside down and threatens to destroy the fragile ties that hold their family together.

Read the first chapter!

Hear Robin reading an excerpt from the book.


“Stevenson treats the family dynamic deftly and contextualizes it with her evocative representation of sailing. In her hands the act of learning to sail and learning to understand become graceful illuminations of the other.” (Canadian Literature, April 2012)

“****/4. …a thought-provoking read for teens and parents alike… well-written, well-paced… the characters are well developed and credible. Their portrayal through the heart and mind of a believable, likable and spunky protagonist… is very effective. Stevenson’s conversational style is a great hook and her mastery of teen dialogue and teen angst is engaging… Highly recommended.” (Canadian Materials, October 2008)

“The author does a fantastic job of making each character relatable… The book flows very smoothly, making it an easy read for teens.” (VOYA, Dec. 2008)

“Stevenson eschews cliche in her keen and credible exploration of family dynamics… Readers looking for a family drama with adroit characterization, serious issues, and a little risky romance on the side should sign up for this voyage.” (Bulletin for the Centre for Children’s Books, January 2009)

“Stevenson writes about Rachel with a very realistic voice… her style is polished and engaging. The characters are well drawn, the ending is realistic and believable, and the plot is reasonably paced. This is a readable, interesting book that would appeal to a teen reader (Rated Excellent).” (Resource Links, December 2008)

“The writing’s emotional honesty and realistic dialogue will appeal to many teens…” (Booklist, January 2009)

“The feelings of the teenagers are conveyed with understanding and skill by Stevenson…” (KLIATT, Nov. 2008)

“Robin Stevenson writes engagingly for teens.” (Vancouver Sun, Dec 2008)

“Highly recommended.”   (Tucson Unified School District, January 2009)

“A nice family to read about – complex without stereotypes, a family you are pulling for…The storyline develops the topics of autonomy, responsibility, sexual mores, and basic angst. It’s well-done and brings up the idea of tolerance of shades of grey in life.”(The Indextrious Reader Blog, January 2009)

 “A page-turning plot…Interesting characters and a creative setting.”(TeensReadToo.Com, February 2009)

“This realistically gritty story is full of raw emotion… Teenage girls…will enjoy this first-person coming -of-age story.” (Tri State Young Adult Book Review Committee , January 2009)

“Rachel comes across as a real teen with whom readers will identify. The book has no easy answers… giving the novel a refreshing realism.” (School Library Journal, March 2009)


  • 2009 Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalist
  • 2009 BC Book Prizes Honor Book (Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize Finalist)
  • 2010 Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Best Books”
  • 2008 Resource Links “The Year’s Best”