How did I ever miss reading this book as I passed through my adolescent years???
I was captivated by Karana as she learned how to survive alone on her small island. She rarely gave into dispair, and then for only moments at a time. Somehow she managed to find the internal strength to face the challenges of each day. I think that many of us living in our modern cities would have a difficult time facing even one of the challenges that Karana faced.
While I did enjoy the follow-up book, "Zia", I didn't find it up to the same calibre. I spent much of my imagination while reading Zia, trying to figure out how it was going to tie in with the "Island of the Blue Dolphin". That did distract me from the story. Zia did have lots to say about the treatment of the indigenous population of the area. Perhaps that was the intent of Mr. O'Dell, that than the tie in with Karana.
All things considered, both are good books that I would recommend for the teen in your family.