At the same time the narrative switches off between characters and these characters include an elderly man, a seagull, some dogs, and other important adults. That part I loved. It added sweet perspectives and some magic into a story that at its heart is about a girl coming to terms with her absent mother.
There is a lot of repetition going on in this book. Not only do we get scenes replayed, becoming fuller and longer bit by bit, but we also get phrases (“the world unto itself” is one) repeated throughout the story. Appelt is really playing with language here. Alliteration and rhythm are ever present. It gives the book a real sense of place and an identifiable style.
At the end we have a breakthrough moment where Keeper dredges up a memory of her mother that is equally heartbreaking and infuriating. We learn the truth of Keeper’s mother as well as how Keeper got her unusual name. Possible spoilers ==> what I wondered is did she really not have a name for 3 years of her life? Seriously? They just had pet names for her? I find this hard to believe. And is Keeper her real name or another pet name (and if it’s a pet name it seems like a hella weird choice). Those thoughts led me to ones on whether or not Keeper even has a birth certificate which is certainly outside the scope of this story. Anyhow, with respect to drama, Keeper’s name scores an A, it was a very dramatic scene and I choked up reading it, but it was definitely problematic for me.<== End of spoilers. In the end, I did enjoy this book. I loved the shifting perspectives, the beautiful use of language. I loved how the story was resolved for Keeper, but perhaps even more so for Dogie and Signe and for Mr. Beauchamp. Everything is tied up nicely, but it feels right. It feels like this is where they were headed from the beginning and they’ve finally caught up to where they are supposed to be.
More Spoilers ==> Was I disappointed that her mother wasn't a mermaid? Maybe a little. But I did sort of love how mermaids were real, even if her mother was just a crappy mother. <== end of spoilers.
Book Source: Library Copy