I made a bookish resolution this year that I am now regretting, and that was to review every book I read here on the blog. But I forgot how hard it is to (A.) keep up and (2.) write a review for a ‘blah’ book. The books I hate are easy to review, and the books I love- even easier. The trickiest reviews for me to write are for books that are just ok- and then it’s difficult trying to say what was wrong with them (especially when the answer is: nothing, really) or why they weren’t better, and that is the task at hand today.
Swim to Me by Betsy Carter is about a young girl named Dolores who, after a family vacation to Florida, decides that she wants to be a mermaid in a show that she visited at Weeki Wachee Springs, a low budge tourist attraction not far from the “new” park some crazy guy named Walt Disney is building. So two years after that initial visit, 17 year old Dolores, who’s Bronx home life has become unbearably sad after her father leaves the family, boards a Greyhound bus bound for Florida with only a bag full of silver dollars and the promise of an interview at the mermaid place.
The rest of the book is about Dolores’s mermaid adventures- because she becomes a BIG sensation! And then there is her stint as a weather girl in a tail, and how she becomes a hero! And then she has a reunion with her dad, who’s now working at the circus! It’s also about her relationship with her bitter mother, her weirdo boss, her sweet little brother Westie, oh! and swimming with circus elephants- in the ocean! She also has full conversations with a creepy doll, out loud, while her roommate in the mermaid dorm keeps watch so no one else overhears. Really!
This book was just not that well written. Characters were poorly drawn and underdeveloped. Situations were silly and unrealistic and, as bizarre as some of them were, not that interesting. The dialogue, especially between mother and daughter, was ‘off’ and seemed all wrong. It took real effort on my part to finish the book. It wasn’t horrible, exactly. I just can’t bring myself to recommend it, unless you really like mermaids, or are into synchronized swimming. Then it might appeal to you.
I found out after I read the book that Weeki Wachee Springs, FL is actually a real place, and was able to find some footage on youtube. SO if you’ve been there, then this book might be for you. And now, for your viewing pleasure, here are the real mermaids of Weeki Wachee!