Swim to Me by Betsy Carter

Swim to Me

Swim to Me  

Betsy Carter (Adult Fiction)

Delores Walker can vividly recall the moment her mother dropped her into the shallow end of a lake.  She was just two, but she remembers the water’s temperature, plunging into its depths, and struggling to resurface.  It was heaven.  Twelve years later, she travels to Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida with her mother and father.  It’s 1970 and the mermaids of Weeki Wachee perform a tribute to Apollo 11.  They spin, twirl, dive, and glide, and Delores is fascinated and enthralled by these amazing creatures in the water.  Now at sixteen, she boards a Greyhound bus to Florida with a suitcase, a handful of silver dollars, a letter from Weeki Wachee, and a dream of being a mermaid.

This book is a loving tribute to those wonderfully glorious quirky, kitschy, and sometimes tacky roadside attractions that are a part of our rich and unique history and culture.  I totally immersed myself in this novel and loved reading about these aquatic darlings and their lives both in and out of the tank.  Carter ensures a well-rounded story by giving equal attention to Delores; her struggling and self-absorbed mother, Gail; and her absentee and apathetic father, Roy.  By offering readers a deeper insight into each of these characters separately, we gain a clearer understanding of their own personal thoughts, feelings, and struggles.

More than a loving wink and nod to days gone by, Swim to Me is a book about endings and new beginnings; about not being defined or confined by your present situation; and about taking what’s given to you and making the absolute most of it.

Rating: 4/5

* Book cover image attributed to http://www.goodreads.com

 

 

The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars (J)

The Summer of the Swans

Betsy Byars (Juvenile Fiction)

Fourteen-year old Sara Godfrey is having the worst summer of her life.  She hates her orange sneakers, she has the biggest feet in school, and don’t even mention her nose.  “I just feel like nothing,” she tells her sister.  But all that changes when her ten-year old brother, Charlie, goes missing.  Suddenly, Sara realizes what is truly important and what really matters.

Sara not only struggles with her own adolescent issues, but is dealing with an absentee father, meddling aunt, and a brother suffering from a mental impairment.  Byars accurately captures and conveys the angst, anger, and anxiety that most teens endure and provides readers with a realistic sense of Sara’s desperate desire to fit in, to be liked, and to be accepted.  More than just a coming-of-age book, The Summer of the Swans also provides an insight into Charlie’s mind and reveals his own desire for stability and security.  Byars shows us how love requires no words and perhaps is more accurately spoken not through the mouth, but by the heart.

Rating: 4/5