Francesca Forrest's Reviews > Keeper

Keeper by Kathi Appelt
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Jun 05, 11

it was amazing
bookshelves: research

I was very much looking forward to reading this book, and it was as wonderful as I had hoped it would be, though not in the way I expected.

I knew it was going to be a story with small events and quiet magic, but at first it looked as if maybe the magic was going to be that grown-up thing that I always hated as a kid: “Oh, the real magic is the beauty of ordinary life, my dear.” Grrr. Yes, okay, ordinary life has magic to it, but sometimes I want more magical magic. And I wanted it for this story, and I feared I wouldn’t get it.

Here’s the thing, though. First, as the author gradually worked in the stories of the people and animals surrounding Keeper (the ten-year-old protagonist), I found myself loving them so powerfully that I wasn’t even going to mind about the lack of magic.

And then, there was real magic, after all—magic, connected with love. Wonderful.

But back to those people and animals. What made me love this story with a powerful love was how it showed people and animals coming together to make a family. With the exception of Keeper, none of the people living on Oyster Ridge Road began there. Signe, who has been a mother to Keeper ever since Keeper’s own mother, a mermaid (so Keeper supposes), swam away, hails from Iowa. Dogie, who was left shaken and stuttering after a tour of duty, but who can sing without a catch, accompanying himself on the ukelele, comes from New Jersey. And old, old Mr. Beauchamp comes from France. But together they and their animals (the dogs BD and Too, the seagull Captain, and the one-eyed cat Sinbad) make a family.

So, when Keeper causes a hullabaloo one day, and treasures are broken and hopes dashed, and she feels she had better slip away at night and row to the sandbar to see if she can find her mermaid mother and get some advice on how to fix things—when all that happens—there are a legion of loving people and creatures who want to see her safely home.

I won’t spoil what happens for you. Let the story unfold and see what you think.
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