Rowan writes letters and sets them free on balloons.
This way, no one he knows will be able to read the secrets he records in his balloon letters. Not his parents, who are determined for him to be the girl he knows he isn’t on the inside—and especially not his dad, who’s hurt him in even more ways than that. Not the girls who used to be his friends but abandoned him last summer, leaving him marooned alone at the beginning of fifth grade. It’s a way of coping with all the hurt and confusion and tangles in Rowan’s life.
Told in the form of these balloon letters, The Ship We Built tells the story of a year where Rowan finds friendship, struggles, and ultimately who he is.
The Ship We Built is a moving, complicated, and utterly beautiful novel. Rowan is one of the most true protagonists I’ve encountered in fiction; I can clearly imagine speaking to him, meeting him. This book is sometimes hard but more powerful for it, and it truly swept me away. I highly recommend The Ship We Built to readers ages eleven and up.