Friday, June 12, 2015
How To Speak Dolphin, by Ginny Rorby
When a young dolphin is rescued and is brought to a nearby commercial aquarium to recover, it is a rare opportunity. Lily's stepdad is brought in the consult on the dolphin's care and, in exchange, the aquarium allows them to hold DAT sessions for Adam. However, as Lily learns the aquarium's ulterior profit motive (and her father's willingness to abet it), she realizes that what might be helping her brother is harming the animal. They need to end the therapy and let the dolphin go. But how can she do this if it will hurt her brother?
The combination of a story about autism and about dolphins is busy. Throw in a blind best friend, dad's complicated emotional response to his son's disability, and a dead mother and it gets more crowded than a Sea World tank! But it all works. Middle readers may find the extended depictions of Adam's behavior or the dolphin's activities to be a bit dull at points, but Rorby has done her homework and wants a chance to convey it. The fact that she makes it all readable and interesting while also education is remarkable. The end result is a satisfying story about family loyalty, empathy for other (animal and human), and learning to accommodate differences. And it's all wrapped up with a beautiful ending that threatens to make you bring out the Kleenexes but ultimately avoids sentimentality.
[Disclaimer: I received a solicited copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. I'll be donating the book to my local public library.]