Read this Incredible Book! All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat

Let me tell you about a book that left Jacob, Benjamin and I totally blown away.

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat


Many adults remember the 2018 news story about a team of boys stranded in a cave. People all over the world watched as, miraculously, all 13 made it out alive. This book tells that man-vs-nature narrative in such a compelling way that even though you know how it ends (it's right in the title!) you're still on the edge of your seat with suspense. 

"I loved it. It was great. There were a bunch of boys trapped in a cave. It was really hard to get them out, even though they tried a bunch of different techniques. 

"It was informational, with pictures and facts on the side, but still a clear, concise story. Honestly I want to reread it; it was really good." - Benjamin, 7th grade 

I think one thing that makes this book so amazing is the author's background. She lives in Texas, but she was visiting relatives in Thailand during the time the rescue took place. She knew immediately she wanted to write a book about the rescue. Her understanding of American culture, Thai culture, mechanical engineering, and education all come into play. And her research talking to American students (Q: what they would like to know from a book like this?), combines with her research in Thailand and meeting with those who took part (Q: What do they think the media neglected to cover properly?). The primary resources she gathers and her meticulous citation of them is just mind blowing, and makes the whole book so much better. 

Soontornvat takes the time to set the stage in every aspect, guiding readers along so that they know why things happened the way they did and what was at stake. I was occasionally tempted to skip an informative section (these were always marked by a green background) because I was biting my nails over this story -- were these sections in here just to pad out the book? No. I'm glad I paused to read each one. The payoff always came. I feel like I learned about Thai culture and then understood the rescue even better because of that. All the relevant information is presented in this book, and none of the info in the book is irrelevant. Everyone who reads this book, whether they know nothing about the rescue or they followed it closely, will learn so much. 

Great photographs accompany and enhance the text on nearly every spread. We get the story of the boys before they became trapped, during  their time in the cave, and afterward -- how did they cope? We get the story of the rescue from many different perspectives on the outside, and each perspective rounds out the book. Soontornvat also writes in a way that helps readers relate to the book, calling to mind universal experiences that help us connect to the people in the story. 

This is my new standard for excellence in nonfiction. I highly recommend this book. 


  1. Replies
    1. I hope you love it! I definitely think you will.

  2. I had an ARC, and now I'm wondering if I want to see the final version just so I get the pictures in color...


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