February 5, 2014

Mermaid tale disappoints

Kira's Secret
by Orysia Dawydiak

Kira has never been to the beach by herself. Her parents have forbidden her to go anywhere near the water. Frustrated, Kira starts sneaking out to the seashore anyway and makes an unusual discovery: her hands appear webbed under salt water. It's clear that Kira is a mermaid. Now unsure of who her parents really are (Kira is adopted), she tries to find out more about her background.

An interesting premise is marred by inconsistent characters and illogical behaviours. Kira starts her search for her family not, as one would presume, at an adoption agency, but in the library, where she checks out books on mythical sea creatures. She is described as timid and hesitant, but as soon as she grows a tail, she becomes headstrong and sassy. Her friend Cody scoffs at the existence of mermaids, yet researches them anyway and accepts Kira a little too readily. When he and Kira start searching the sea, they do so without maps or any real knowledge about where to look. However, Kira conveniently meets a pod of dolphins who just happen to know where some merrow live. These merrow turn out to be Kira's relatives, who don't exactly welcome her kindly. Yet her snobbish cousins suddenly tell her that her parents are still alive and where to find them. But she doesn't find them! The open ending makes clear that another book is planned.

Readers who stick around will rightly assume that Kira will reunite with her parents and possibly make peace with her other relatives. She'll also have to contend with some school bullies who suddenly pop up in the final chapter. They spread a nasty but unbelievable rumor about her, using language that sounds really out of place. It makes the story sound even more serious than it did before. It needs a dash of lightness and a slower pace to fully develop into a more compelling read.

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