7 With an underlying message about the human damage to the ecosystem this is a startling vivid depiction of its setting and an evocative tribute to a kind of survival that’s more than just knot-tying skills.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
In this thoroughly introspective tale, a Florida teenager survives a nautical mishap by falling in with a passing trio of manatees. Lolly finds herself both physically and mentally adrift after a peaceful solo sail in a small boat turns suddenly disastrous, leaving her injured and in shock. Enter the manatees, one of whom allows her to take hold of an old propeller wound and tows her to an uninhabited mangrove cove. As hunger and dehydration drive her into a dreamlike state, wishes and fragments of her ordinary life drift through Lolly’s consciousness, and her inner narrative takes on a stream-of-consciousness quality: I began to cry from exhaustion and beauty and from not knowing the difference between the two. Monninger tucks in a metaphysical element toward the end (shades of Whale Rider), but the manatees never behave unnaturally. Their plight, highlighted both in the author’s afterword and when one is injured (again!) by a propeller during Lolly’s dramatic rescue, will make as deep an impression on readers as the protagonist’s own strong, distinctive voice.
Monninger's descriptive narrative is pictureseque... [T]he integrity of Lolly's character and the ferocity of her desire to protect the manatees makes her a believable narrator. ... Spare and beautiful.
Monninger’s novel is a riveting, can’t-put-it-down survival tale. ... Lolly reveals early on that she makes it to safety... But knowing that Lolly will eventually be rescued allows readers to live with her, moment by moment, and focus more intently on the concepts she ponders: fate, existence, enlightenment, what it means to be human, and what our relationship is with our animal ‘kin.’
An affecting account, beautifully told.
—School Library Journal
Spring 2009 issue of The School Librarian's Workshop Spotlighting Fiction Animals in Our Lives When 15-year-old Lolly, called a hippie chick, goes sailing in her Boston Whaler, she runs into an underwater obstacle, and her boat breaks up. After spending several hours in the water, 3 manatees appear. Lolly climbs on the back of the largest one, ending up on a small mangrove key with a lagoon where the manatees nest and using her ingenuity to survive. Many people, including rescue units and her boyfriend, are searching for her. She is finally spotted and picked up by a rescue helicopter, and her experiences lead her to take a new look at what her future might be.
—The School Librarian's Workshop