- Author: D.G. Driver
- Published: February 2014 by Fire and Ice Young Adult Books
- Category: YA, Fantasy
Juniper Sawfeather is choosing which college to attend after graduation from West Olympia High School next year. She wants to go to San Diego to be far away from her environmental activist parents. They expect her to think the way they do, but having to be constantly fighting causes makes it difficult to be an average 17-year-old high school student. Why do her parents have to be so out there?
I haven’t read many Mermaid novels but this is completely different, in a good way, to the ones I have read. Juniper Sawfeather, the daughter of well known environmental activists, is a high school senior contemplating her future career. She doesn’t want to follow in her parents’ footsteps, even though she supports them and helps out when she can. Her ultimate goal is to enter the field of marine biology and escape from the embarrassing stigma of her ‘weird’ parents, which has made her less than popular at school.
Being called out at all hours of the day and night is an integral part of life for the Sawfeather family and when June’s father gets an emergency call in the early hours one morning, he and June head to the beach where there has been a massive oil spill. As they do what they can to save the marine life coated in oil, they discover incredible, human-like creatures washed up on the beach which will impact hugely on everyone concerned. When two of the creatures, who June and her father believe are mermaids, die, they are desperate to save the third, and take her to a rescue centre where Carter, the young intern, joins their fight.
They must be surfers, was all I could think as I ran towards the three squirming bodies. Who else would be in the water this early in the morning? But even for surfers, this was pretty early. They’d have to have been surfing in the dark. That didn’t make any sense. Were they crazy? I knew some surfers at school, and they were definitely nuts sometimes, but surfing before the sun rose seemed extreme even for them.
Well, crazy or not, they didn’t deserve to be caught in an oil slick. I crashed down to my knees beside the bodies and dropped my gear. I started to reach out my hand to tap them and see if they were all right without even stopping to get a good look at them. But before I touched any of them, my arm recoiled back to my side.
June and Carter are attracted to each other but their budding romance doesn’t run smoothly and is really a small part of the story. The teenage self-consciousness and uncertainty is portrayed perfectly as June struggles with the conflicting emotions between adolescence and adulthood. I like how her character develops throughout and how she comes to realise what is actually important and worth bothering about in life.
This story has strong messages, not least from the environmental point of view, and although there’s no lecturing, it certainly brings these issues to the forefront. I love the interesting references to Native American folklore concerning mermaids and orcas, from stories told through the generations. The mermaids in the story are interpreted and described realistically, without glamorizing or humanizing them, which makes the concept more believable and engaging.
The oil spill situation and repercussions are portrayed genuinely and are obviously well researched, showing how the negligence of a large company can have a devastating impact on the environment. A very good, well written story full of intrigue and conspiracies as June, her best friend and her parents, Carter and others try to outwit the oil company in an effort to help save the mythical sea creatures.
This book is reviewed for Rosie Amber‘s book review team and is based on a digital copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.
About the author
D. G. Driver is the author of Young Adult and Middle Grade novels. The first two books of her Juniper Sawfeather Novels series: Cry of the Sea and Whisper of the Woods, published by Fire and Ice, are now available. She also wrote a sweet novella that you really will adore called Passing Notes . As Donna Getzinger she is the author of several nonfiction books. She is a long time member of SCBWI. In addition to writing, she is a teacher and actress.