From Publishers Weekly
Carter follows her plucky New York journalist's memoir Nothing to Fall Back On
and first novel The Orange Blossom Special
with another sweet story of self-reinvention. Delores Walker, 17, leaves her troubled home in the Bronx of 1973 to become a mermaid at Weeki Wachee Springs in Tampa, Fla. There, in a series of fortuitous events, ugly duckling Delores becomes the star of the show, a local hero, the most popular girl in town (although she remains unfailingly nice) and the catalyst for an unlikely family reunion. Carter jumps from head to head without providing much insight into her characters, including the slimily manipulative and ambitious TV producer, Alan Sommers, and the gentle circus giant, T. Rex, who's little more than a vehicle for folksy wisdom. But Carter is less interested in character development than in storytelling, which she does with aplomb, as Delores faces fame-related conflicts, and resort owner Thelma Foote has wisdom to spare. The results are sensationalist, predictable and satisfying. (Aug.)
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Teenage Delores Walker is determined to make something of her life, motivated, in part, by her sad-sack Brooklyn family. After her father walks out, her embittered mother is forced to work two jobs. Delores, eager to escape her dismal family life, heads to Florida, where she is hired as a mermaid for an operation that has fallen on hard times, losing business to the recently opened Walt Disney Resort. Weeki Wachee is run by Thelma Foote, a lonely but tough businesswoman who is all too aware that the tattered, kitschy costumes and tired swim routines are in need of a touch of pizzazz. When Delores and her fellow mermaids cook up a routine they dub The Merfather (a play on The Godfather), the crowds show up in droves. A stint as a TV weather girl and an unexpected family reunion all contribute to Delores' grand reinvention of her life. In her warm, appealing second novel, Carter (The Orange Blossom Special, 2005) displays a sure feel for her 1970s Florida setting, right down to the aqua color schemes. Wilkinson, Joanne