87. Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Keeper by Kathi Appelt (USA)- (Canada)

Pages: 409 pages
Ages: 8+
Finished: May 18, 2010
First Published: May 18, 2010
Publisher: Atheneum
Genre: children, magical realism
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

Keeper leaned over the edge of the boat.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon and Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading: Mermaids are another of my favourite mythological creatures to read about in novels. I actually had no idea the author was a newbery honor winner, although I have heard of her other book, I have not read it and didn't know who wrote it.

The book has a simple plot. Living on the Texan Coast in an isolated area close to a small town in three houses are Keeper and a young woman who is not her mother, an old man who has forgotten how old he is and a young man who runs a surfboard rental shop. These people are Keepers "family" and she loves them very much but one day Keeper has a bad day and everything she does goes wrong and she hurts each one of these people. Living a life filled with tales of the sea and a strong belief in mermaid lore, since she herself is half merfolk she sets off under the stealth of night, on the night of the blue moon, to make her way to a sandbar out in the ocean with her dog BD and a segull named Captain to call her mermaid mother back to ask her help on fixing everything that has gone wrong.

The book is well written and has a dreamy, calm atmosphere even when Keeper feels that everything has gone wrong. The pace is slow. The book starts with Keeper in the boat and then goes back to explain everything that happened that day to get her to this point. Along the way, we get the backstories of the people (and animals) inhabiting her world. This takes perhaps the first half of the book. Then the second half takes Keeper on her journey out to sea and reveals secrets of those back on shore culminating in the worst bad thing that has gone wrong all day. There are some magical elements to the story which are not explained in any sense as to whether they are real or dreamings. It is up to each reader to decide for themselves.

I'm having a hard time coming up with a rating for this book as I'm caught in the middle as to whether I really liked it. I certainly enjoyed the characters, they were all brought to life for me and I appreciated who they were and what they had experienced very much; I just wish something actually happened to them in this book. The plot is simple and dragged out but the book does leave one feeling tranquil most of the time. I think what I may be trying to say is that the writing is almost like poetry and that just may be my problem; I'm not big on poetical writing. I think this may be one of those books that you're either going to love or just could do without.


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