From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—Fifteen-year-old Lolly Emmerson loves to spend time with her boyfriend, Nicky. Her other love is sailing in the Florida Keys. One evening, her Boston Whaler hits an underwater obstacle. Lolly is not concerned until the unsinkable boat overturns and she is dumped into the water. She tries to remain calm but is knocked unconscious by the mast. When she comes to, something thumps her. Shark or dolphin is the first thing that comes to mind; however, it is a giant manatee. A trio of manatees takes Lolly on their backs to an isolated island. When she begins to recover from her injuries, the manatees take her to open water where she is soon spotted and rescued, and one of the animals is severely injured by a propeller cut. While the story might stretch the imagination, it does show the teen's courage and determination to survive and the bond she forges with these gentle creatures. Lolly tells her story after her rescue, explaining how she felt at various stages of her ordeal, particularly when she was sure she was going to die. It's an affecting account, beautifully told. In an afterword, the author makes a plea for the safe treatment of the manatees.—Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK
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In this thoroughly introspective tale, a Florida teenager survives a nautical mishap by falling in with a passing trio of manatees. Lolly finds herself both physically and mentally adrift after a peaceful solo sail in a small boat turns suddenly disastrous, leaving her injured and in shock. Enter the manatees, one of whom allows her to take hold of an old propeller wound and tows her to an uninhabited mangrove cove. As hunger and dehydration drive her into a dreamlike state, wishes and fragments of her ordinary life drift through Lolly’s consciousness, and her inner narrative takes on a stream-of-consciousness quality: I began to cry from exhaustion and beauty and from not knowing the difference between the two. Monninger tucks in a metaphysical element toward the end (shades of Whale Rider), but the manatees never behave unnaturally. Their plight, highlighted in the author’s afterword, will make as deep an impression on readers as the protagonist’s own strong, distinctive voice. Grades 7-10. --John Peters
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