Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review: Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Book: Keeper
Author: Kathi Appelt
Published: 2010
Source: Local Library

On Texas's Gulf Coast, a motley little family has assembled itself out of broken flotsam. But ten-year-old Keeper has never stopped yearning for her real mother, Meggie Marie, who swam away to be a mermaid when she was three. After her own carelessness and impulsive actions destroy a special day, Keeper feels as if she has likewise destroyed her makeshift family forever. But she just knows her mermaid mother will be able to fix everything.

Armed with offerings for the Sea Queen, Yemaya, she takes her beloved dog and sets off to sea. But the open ocean is a big and dangerous place for a girl and her dog. Will her true family find her in time?

Like Appelt's earlier book, The Underneath, this novel is firmly rooted in a place (in this case, the Texas Gulf Coast), and in the idea of family assembled rather than born. It's not an action-packed heart-thumper of a book, although there are certainly tense moments. It meanders, it daydreams, it wanders. It has that magical-realism-type acceptance of the marvelous and fantastical next to the everyday. You have to assemble the real stories from the crumbs dropped by the author.

But it will suck you in, this book, with its magical-realism tone and deep-running emotional themes that will resonate with anybody who's ever felt the power of love, no matter where it comes from.

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