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A Suffragist's Guide to the Antarctic

About The Book

A teen’s fight for suffrage turns into one of survival when her crew’s Antarctic expedition ship gets stuck in the ice in this historical novel told in journal entries perfect for fans of Gary Paulsen and The Downstairs Girl.

November 1914.

Clara Ketterling-Dunbar is one of twenty-eight crew members of The Resolute—a ship meant for an Antarctic expedition now marooned on ice one hundred miles from the shore of the continent. An eighteen-year-old American, Clara has told the crew she’s a twenty-one-year-old Canadian. Since the war broke out, sentiment toward Americans has not been the most favorable, and Clara will be underestimated enough simply for being a woman without also giving away just how young she is. Two members of the crew know her nationality, but no one knows the truth of her activities in England before The Resolute set sail.

She and her suffragist sisters in the Women’s Social & Political Union were waging war of a different kind in London. They taught Clara to fight. And now, even marooned on the ice, she won’t stop fighting for women’s rights…or for survival. In the wilderness of Antarctica, Clara is determined to demonstrate what a woman is truly capable of—if the crew will let her.

About The Author

Photograph by Mimi Snow

Yi Shun Lai lives in Southern California, and she can talk to you forever about plants and animals and deserts both hot and cold. She volunteers for ShelterBox, an international disaster-relief organization, and was once invited to be a crew member aboard an Antarctic cruise line. She’s the author of novels Not a Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu and A Suffragist’s Guide to the Antarctic and memoir Pin Ups. You can read her essays in Shondaland and Brevity. Find her on the web at TheGoodDirt.org.

Why We Love It

“I was immediately hooked in by Clara’s voice. This novel reminds me of the character-driven survival classics I grew up on while feeling fresh at the same time and like nothing else I’ve ever read. Yi Shun takes the bones of a real historical Antarctic expedition and masterfully reimagines it with rich detail, making this feel so immersive I felt like I had journeyed to the Antarctic myself by the end.”

—Kristie C., Assistant Editor, on A Suffragist’s Guide to the Antarctic

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (February 13, 2024)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665937788
  • Ages: 12 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

A Junior Library Guild Selection

* "As a character, Clara feels modern but not anachronistic; she’s wrestling with social issues that continue to resonate today, and her strong voice propels readers through an adventure as compelling as Shackleton’s own to a heartfelt, realistic conclusion. Polar exploration transforms a young woman in unexpected and interesting ways in this original, evocative tale."

– Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

"Clara is a defiant and resilient heroine who immediately endears herself to both the reader and her motley crew. As tension mounts and survival becomes uncertain, Lai neatly underscores the courage it took—and still takes—to be a woman in a male-dominated world."

– Publishers Weekly

"Lai successfully blends the events of Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition with the social climate of the suffragist movement in 1914 and pairs it with a sharp-witted, charismatic narrator who readers can easily root for."

– The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"A great historical adventure for young adults, told in journal entries. This book would appeal to readers looking for a strong female role model and would be a welcome [addition for] libraries serving teens."

– School Library Journal

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