Nature and science in a vivid Cape Cod setting create layers of meaning as 13-year-old Cara and her brothers confront the puzzle of their mother’s disappearance.
Mom vanished two months ago, and summer’s ending. While swimming in the ocean, Cara spots a sea otter—but sea otters don’t belong on Atlantic beaches. Cara reaches out her fingertips, and the otter streams words into Cara’s mind: “TAKE CARE OF THEM FOR ME.” The next morning, on a bayside beach (across the Cape from the ocean beach), she sees the otter again—or another one—and Cara’s dog picks up a piece of driftwood inscribed “CARA. CONSULT THE LEATHERBACK.” Ten-year-old brother Jax, a genius with odd ESP gifts, communes with the aquarium’s leatherback turtle; 16-year-old brother Max, a skeptic, needs coaxing but joins the mission too. A man stalks them, water flowing continuously out of his face; he arrives, horribly, through faucets and lawn sprinklers. In a stunning and luminescent scene, Cara and Jax confront the Pouring Man on the ocean floor. Their quest has three levels: a personal level about their missing mother, an ecological level about ocean acidification and an epic level about good and evil that the kids don’t understand yet. Millet’s prose is lyrically evocative (“the rhythmic scoop and splash of their paddles”).
A lush and intelligent opener for a topical eco-fantasy series. (Fantasy. 9-13)