Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, July 13, 2007

Looking for a cool,refreshing read? All you have to do is Swim To Me

Our story begins with Delores Walker,who boards a bus to Florida in 1972 to get her dream job as a mermaid at Weeki Wachee Springs. One of the few happy times her family had was a trip there,when Delores was thirteen. Three years later,her dad is long gone and Delores' determined to be depressed mother,Gail,insists that she leave school and go to work to help pay some of the expenses for not just the two of them but Westie,Delores' little brother who has never even seen his father.

Armed with only a handful of silver dollars she found hidden in the back of her parent's closet and Otto,her favorite childhood puppet who she sometimes secretly talks to,Delores departs from the Bronx and manages to impress Thelma Foote,the current manager of the Weeki Wachee mermaids,into giving her a chance to perform. Pretty soon,Delores is known as "Delores Taurus" and becomes one of the main performers in the show,headlining such much needed attention getting acts(Weeki Wachee is in fierce competition with the newly opened Disney World) such as an underwater re-inactment of the current hit film,"The Godfather".

Meanwhile,Gail makes an unexpected friend at one of her cleaning jobs,an up and coming fashion magazine intern named Avalon who even takes Gail and Westie along on a
business trip to Boca Raton to help her out as an assistant. Delores' reunion with her mother is not the greatest but she does get to reconnect to Westie,who shares his sister's love of the water. Delores is not lacking in friends such as merman Lester,who sunbathes constantly in hopes of clearing up his skin and Molly,one of her sister mermaids.

The success of the "Merfather" attracts the local television station,who wants to pick up some ratings for the evening news by having a rotation of WWS mermaids as weathergirls. Delores is first up,and quickly becomes the one and only choice for the job. During one of her reports that takes her to a stormy beach front,Delores makes a daring ocean rescue that leads to an unexpected reunion that may or may not reunite her family.

This is Betsy Carter's second novel(The Orange Blossom Special is the title of her first)and reading it makes me wish that I had discovered her sooner than this.Swim To Me is a gracefull and tender tale of a young woman in search of finding not only her heart's desire but a loving family and winds up creating more than one along the way.

Carter captures the magic of Weeki Wachee and the essence of the time period without resorting to a glossy literary version of rose colored glasses. She also brings out the humanity of gruff characters like Thelma,who was once a WWS mermaid herself but due to being rejected as the leading lady for "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid"(plus,an underwater show mishap),prefers to harden her personality shell but little by little,allows herself to open up to the new possibilites around her. Even Gloomy Gail is given a chance to blossom into her own person here.

Swim to Me is due out at a bookseller near you by August 1,which is great timing,being one of the biggest vacation months. This sweet and snappy novel is perfect for poolside reading and relaxing. Put it on your summer shopping list today!

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