When Stephen's dad is lost at sea in the mid-1800s, his life begins to unravel. His devoted mother Ellen, an Irish wash-woman, can't keep an eye on Stephen and his brother while trying to make enough for the family to live on.
At her wits' end, Ellen sends Stephen to a farm upstate, but Stephen doesn't take to it. Stephen is finally taken in by a family living on an island 23 miles off the coast of Maine: Matinicus. There, Stephen rediscovers himself through adventures and misadventures with new friends. Instead of feeling trapped on the Island so far from home, Stephen finds freedom as he grows into adulthood through the devoted care of his newfound Grandmother and Grandfather.
Toward the end of his life, Stephen recounted this true story to his Marian Wells Cronin. The Island has now been updated for contemporary readers by Stephen's great-grandson, David Jones. Combined with historical notes and additional bonus materials online, this story provides a rich window into one family's history that can help all of us make sense of who we wish to be in the present.