I read this book about 10-13 years ago and since then I haven't been able to find the title and I would really like to read it again. This was in middle school (grades 6 - 8) so the book would have to address that age of audience.

From what I remember, the protagonist is a young boy. They live in a cave on boats. The boy is almost certain that they are simply going in circles since he has managed to swim around and get back to his home. At one point the boy manages to escape out into the world. He doesn't know what colors are, or what anything really is, but the main focus is on color (if I recall correctly). He meets a girl that explains to him what the things around him are.

That's all I can remember. Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    What about this is science fiction or fantasy? All I see is people living in a cave.
    – Valorum
    Feb 19, 2015 at 19:58
  • Cave on boats? Like a massive cave systems full of water and the people are sailing/rowing around in boats?
    – Trish Ling
    Feb 19, 2015 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


Journey Outside by Mary Q Steele

From the amazon.com summary:

The Raft People live in darkness and travel a circular journey on a underground river. One boy finds his way outside and tries to learn as much as possible so he can ultimately lead his people there to the Better Place.

and from goodreads.com:

Grandfather said they were headed for the Better Place, but Dilar suspected they were headed nowhere, simply following the dark underground river blindly. And so one night he leaped onto a shelf of rock and watched the flotilla of the Raft People disappear. And from there he found his way Outside, into a world so beautiful and strange he could only suppose he had died-a world of day, and sun, of trees and sky.

Memorable story.

  • I vaguely remember this but I would have put the date well before 1979 -- I remember finding this very disturbing when I read it as a kid which was much before 1979 and I wonder if it was written before 1979 in a different form.
    – releseabe
    Jan 21, 2020 at 1:38

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