** spoiler alert **
Ten-year-old Keeper has made a complete mess of things. Now she is in a boat, determined to find her mother, who is (so Keeper believes) a mermaid. Bd, her dog, joins her for this adventure as she tries to fix things for Signe, the woman who has taken care of her for her whole life; for Dogie, the man who has taught her to wax surfboards and who wants to marry Signe; and for Mr. Beaumont, the grandfather-like man who lives next-door and tells Keeper stories about mermaids. Keeper loves her little world - just the three houses with the 4 people and their animals all along the coast of Texas. But she's ruined things, and she is convinced that finding her mother is the only way to fix them.
I had mixed feelings about this book. This is another one that I had to read for a mock Newbery. There were things I loved about it - for example, I loved the way the chapters told the story from all the characters' points of view, including the animals; I thought the use of flashback to tell the back story in bits and pieces was very powerful. I both loved and hated the fact that the bulk of the book takes place in a few hours during one night - part of me felt it was possibly the longest night ever, at least to read about, but the other part of me loved the intensity of being there for every minute of the adventure with Keeper (and most of me agreed with BD that the whole thing was a bad idea). But there were plenty of things I didn't really like about the book. It is a strange combination of reality and fantasy. And, really, if there are going to be mermaids in the story, why wasn't Keeper's mother a mermaid? I mean, I do actually understand why she isn't a mermaid and everything - that did all make sense. But to find out that she isn't a mermaid and then to find out that these other mermaids are real almost at the same time was a little weird. It's just a strange combination that I didn't quite like.
Overall, interesting book. I enjoyed the way it was written and would definitely try other things by this author. But I don't know if it's worthy of the Newbery - it didn't seem quite that amazing to me.