In 2018, the world held its breath while a large international team gathered in Thailand to save a boys' soccer team trapped in a cave that was filling with water. Christina Soontornvat (A Wish in the Dark) thrillingly recounts this harrowing tale in All Thirteen.
One June afternoon, after the Wild Boars soccer team finished practice, some of the boys asked Coach Ek to accompany them on a hike to Tham Luang Nang Non, a local cave. Coach Ek agreed and the spirited young athletes wandered deep into the cave. Then came the unthinkable: rushing water appeared from nowhere, blocking their path. Over the next 18 days, world-renowned experts, local residents and the global community joined together in a herculean effort to defy the odds and rescue the team.
All Thirteen is a riveting exploration of a story readers may think they already know. Soontornvat does a brilliant job of balancing education (why and how the cave flooded, what made the rescue so difficult, etc.) with heart-pounding scenes of rescue attempts. She introduces the famous divers and planners outside the cave, alongside pivotal behind-the-scenes figures, while brilliantly keeping her focus on Thailand and the soccer team. In fantastic offset sections, she includes photos and diagrams and details about Thai culture, cave geography, diving lingo and the Buddhist meditation practices the group used while stuck. She also includes significant information that didn't make it to the media, such as how the boys were sedated and bound for the extraction and that the experts planning the rescue fully expected several of the boys to die in the rescue attempt. All Thirteen is a powerful testament to community and the strength of the human spirit and an exhilarating read for nonfiction fans of all ages. --Kyla Paterno, freelance reviewer