A move from Wyoming to the Gulf Coast improves Callie’s debilitating asthma while also awakening a dark inner voice that lures her toward the open ocean, where her mother drowned years earlier.
Callie and her father spent years traversing the landlocked inner United States, where Callie led the lonely life of the perpetually sickly new girl. But the move to the Gulf Coast quickly improves her health. Soon Callie gains friends and a new gregarious boyfriend, Ben. But her short-lived happiness is destroyed by a dark family secret that many readers will have guessed from the very beginning. Callie’s slow acknowledgement of her unusual heritage, in spite of copious “mysterious” clues from her maternal aunt, may build patient readers’ anticipation for the big reveal, but many will be disappointed when Callie expresses little shock, disbelief or horror when she finally understands its enormity, easily accepting her destiny. Ultimately, many questions about the family’s lineage and Callie’s mental health remain frustratingly unanswered. The story is at its best in the sensory details that create its vaguely sinister atmosphere; the way the characters all feel trapped by their small town and yet also suffer a sort of terrifying lethargy that prevents them from escaping recalls the stellar Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone (2012).
Unfortunately, both haphazard plotting and inadequate articulation of Callie’s heritage make understanding the truth of her story difficult. (Fiction. 14-18)