It's a fresh start for Delores Walker when she boards a Greyhound bus bound for Florida. Leaving the Bronx far behind, she's headed for sunny Weeki Wachee Springs, frayed roadside attraction in danger of becoming obsolete with the opening of Walt Disney's latest creation, only miles up the road. Always more suited for a life underwater, Delores joins a group of other aquatic hopefuls in this City of Live Mermaids, where she discovers a world of sequined tails and amphibious theme shows that even Disney couldn't dream up. It's in this fantastic place of make-believe and reinvention that Delores Walker becomes Delores Taurus, Florida's most unlikely celebrity. Bringing together an eccentric assortment of outcasts, poseurs, and underdogs, this wise and poignant novel conjures up a time in America when anything was possible, especially in the Sunshine State. A story of family, chasing dreams and finding your way, Swim To Me will have you believing the impossible—even in mermaids from the Bronx.
Bronx native Delores Walker first experiences Florida's Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaid Show roadside attraction while on a family road trip when she's just fourteen. By the age of sixteen, she's invited to join the show herself. It's the 1970s, her father has recently walked out on the family, and young Delores eagerly accepts the position but it doesn't take long for her the grittier side of this whole new world she's now a member of. Still a teenager, Delores -- now going by the stage name Delores Taurus --- is already having to deal with lewd men licking the glass at her shows.
Though the cast of ladies brings together a variety of backgrounds, a kind of sisterhood naturally forms, strengthened by the Womens' Lib movement of the era. Behind them all is Thelma, who seems rough on the swimmers but the story later reveals she does truly care about them and has their backs, even if her concern comes out a little on the gruff side. Though she's sometimes left in a tough position when it comes to the business side of things, Thelma does her best to battle sexism against her mermaids. There's also some time spent on Delores's relationship with her father, his anger issues, and Delores's struggle with her mother sometimes being petty and manipulative.
The whole plot is wrapped around a behind the scenes look at a mermaid show, making it a strong pick for summertime reading. Plot moves a little slow at times, but the bonds between the ladies keeps the pace enjoyable even when the action might lag here and there. As far as individual character development, a number of them start out pretty good but many of the characters are not quite fleshed out enough IMO.
In the end, the main theme looks at the idea of everyone having their little secrets and the common thread of everyone having the temptation to start fresh from time to time, that sometimes meaning a new approach to their identity. You might not be able to change where you originally came from, but each day is an opportunity to move one step closer to who you want to be. Story's end resolution is a little weak, but I still had a good time on the ride.
“My insanity is my sanity. I am both, but I am one. If any of this makes sense.”
After being locked in an asylum for killing her friends in a bus crash and not remembering who she is, why she did it or anything before the asylum it's fair to say Alice Wonder starts to question her sanity when she is approached by fellow inmate Pillar to help hunt down and find Wonderland monsters. That's the premise of the first two books, Wonderland characters we know wreaking havoc on the streets of London leading to the impending Wonderland Wars.
I love the idea of this series, it takes the idea of the weird and wacky Wonderland we love and runs with it, full tilt crazy. The second book ended with Alice really starting to question things when she wakes up and discovers she paralysed and that the 'reality' she thought was real is really a figment of her imagination to escape the awful truth. She really did kill her friends and Wonderland and its monsters are a way for her to bury herself in her mind.
“The world is such a useless place, that’s all I can think of now. It’s full of hypocrites, liars, and selfish people.”
My biggest worry about this book was that we would still be left in the dark about a lot of our main characters past and what's to come. In the previous books, and this one Alice is constantly talked about like she's not there, people know about her and her past but won't tell her because she has to discover it for herself. After realising that there are 8 books in the series I got a little worried how long it would be before we found out anything.
So, pros and cons, we got get a bit more information, although still focusing on the villain of the week story we get a first real look at how Wonderlanders came into our world and their motives, plus finally we get a glimpse into who Alice is. This book is told via multiple view points thank goodness because we learn more than Alice does. The biggest downside, there felt like endless filler chapters that felt very repetitive. Joe blogs is waiting for some big reveal, a chapter back to Alice and then back again to Joe Blogs and still nothing is really happening. I get wanting to build suspense and for the character to be emerged in the crazy atmosphere but it felt so unnecessary.
“Mad is beautiful,” I say. “It has its flaws, but when shared with the good-hearted it’s beautiful.”
This series still has some great potential and doesn't shy away from the madness, which really works in its favour. There is a lot of second guessing to be had, especially once the idea of her really being paralysed and in denial cropped up, but I feel like that plot thread is going to be under used and forgotten about. For me; it needs to cut the pointless two page chapters and get on with it. But despite that I still gave it 4 stars because I got about half way and suddenly found myself really gripped and wanted to keep reading on my lunch break.
Don't forget you can follow & subscribe.