This is an exceptional book that manages to combine numerous interesting and enriching elements within a truly exciting plot, beautifully written and highly readable. Part heart-warming wildlife story, part informative ecological campaigning story, part psychologically interesting and reassuring problem-family story, part dealing with bullies story, and part considering disability story, this is also a nail-biting adventure. It does end happily, with lots of ends tied-up pleasingly, but manages to avoid undermining believability by leaving the lost mother still lost, but that fact has been come to terms with.
Kara, our heroine, is an unhappy feisty girl whose mother has gone missing and whose father has money troubles that threaten to lose them the boat that Kara and her parents had put so much into. In a wonderful opening scene, this anti-hero Kara tears pages from the Bible, then throws the actual book at an obnoxious bully boy who is mocking her father, breaking that boy’s nose. We are on her side from that moment on!
Kara and her father are living with his sister’s family, and that’s hard, with space and money in short supply. But the relationship between Kara and her small cousin Daisy is funny and touching. And Kara’s other great ally is also an unlikely one at first. New boy at school, Felix, is rude to Daisy, and his father is wanting to buy Kara’s family’s beloved boat. Felix is crippled by cerebral palsy, and it is refreshing to read of a disabled character who is properly complex and real. He becomes a friend to Kara, and also proves himself a brave hero at the exciting climax of the drama. Mention of his potential for sailing in future Paralympic Games will let readers who experienced last year’s Paralympics imagine how his sailing skills work.
The Cornish setting with its weather moods almost acts as another character in this story. It’s a place giving its human inhabitants a living through fishing, but it is sensitive and moody and can take that living away if treated badly. Within its seas are the dolphins, and the albino child dolphin of the title. People threaten the health of those seas, and the dolphins, and in turn those seas threaten the foolish or greedy amongst the people.
Jill Lewis is an experienced vet and has lived in Cornwall. It’s a treat to share her knowledge and passions in this exceptional book. Very highly recommended.
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