Monday, January 7, 2008
Swim to Me by Betsy Carter
When I opened the NY Times yesterday morning and saw the big article about Weeki Wachee, I knew it was time to shake off my post-holiday lethargy and finally write a review for this charming book. Did you know some Weeki Wachee mermaids can hold their breath for 4 minutes, dive to over 100 feet below the surface and sometimes share their watery stage with alligators (real ones with teeth)? My family always spent some time each year in Florida. Usually, it was in the summer (Yankees went to Florida in the winter). In Atlanta folks either vacationed in the mountains or at the beach in the summer. We were beach people. In the early days we stayed at Robertson's Cottages in Panama City, FL, before there were any hotels, motels or tourist traps. Just a beach and ocean. Later our destination was Ponte Vedra, then Destin and eventually Sea Island, GA. I went to Weeki Wachee sometime in the 50's. It was pure magic for a little girl - and my dad seemed to enjoy the show very much, too. If you don't know about Weeki Wachee, go to http://www.mermaid.weekiwachee.com/ - it's been an attraction since 1947.
PLOT: Delores Walker, just 17, boards a Greyhound bus in New York and heads for Weeki Wachee Springs with the dream of becoming a mermaid. Her parents have separated (a marriage "written in food stains" on the walls of their dingy Bronx apartment). Her father gone, her mother struggling with bills and a new baby, Delores' world is gray and hopeless. But Delores dares to chase her dream and, well, take the plunge into a new world alone. Soon, she's Delores Taurus, mermaid extraordinaire. While parts of the plot are the stuff of fantasy (I don't know if elephants ever participated in the underwater show at Weeki Wachee), the story is realistic enough to give hope that with a little luck and fair amount of courage, anyone can follow their bliss. Delores is a spunky heroine to cheer for - totally innocent, but focused on her goal and driven by her aspirations. Nothing can sink the girl! Swim to Me delivers dreams come true and the bright possibilities of life. Recommended for bringing sunshine to dark, dreary winter days.