Staff Reads: All Thirteen

Staff Reads: All Thirteen

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat won three awards in 2021: a Newbery Honor, a Robert F. Sibert Honor, and a YALSA Young Finalist Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. This book tells exactly what happened over 18 days inside and outside that flooded cave.

I remember in 2018 when the Thai soccer team went missing–their bikes and shoes found at the cave entrance. I paid special attention because I was a Boy Scout mom, and I’d been in caves. I’d even crawled on my belly through pitch-black squeezes, hoping that the battery on my headlamp would not give out and leave me in darkness to follow my guide (see pic of me and my husband above). And when the news broke that the team had been rescued, I was relieved because I had been in a cave with my boys and my mind had played out the things that could go wrong.

Soontornvat brilliantly tells the daily account of how the boys survived being trapped. But that’s not all. She explains the rescue operation (a military multi-national effort), the water diversion attempts to keep the new rainfall out of the caves (an engineering feat by local farmers), and even the political and socioeconomic factors involved in the rescue. I had no idea this rescue was so complex. I had no idea that leaders of the rescue operation had decided it was most likely going to end with 13 dead bodies. In the end, the trapped kids all survived with minimal injuries, and one Thai Navy SEAL lost his life during rescue preparations.

I could not put this book down, and I couldn’t keep it to myself. The account of the rescue was so compelling that I read it aloud to my husband. The unbelievable facts about this event has left me telling all my friends, “Hey, have you heard what really happened to that soccer team…?”

I highly recommend this book, currently available on Overdrive.

*Pictured above: Me and my husband, Brett, after spelunking (crawling through the caves) at Bluespring Caverns, Indiana. March, 2017.