Fireflies; The River King) novel for children focuses on two best friends who share a mysterious secret. The su"/>

AQUAMARINE

Alice Hoffman, Author AQUAMARINEAlice Hoffman

Hoffman's (Fireflies; The River King) novel for children focuses on two best friends who share a mysterious secret. The summer that Hailey and Claire are both 12 is bittersweet; come September, Claire will move to Florida with her grandparents. But in the meantime, the girls spend their days at their favorite hangout, the Capri Beach Club, which is slated for demolition and all but deserted, save for Raymond, the college-bound bookworm who runs the snack shop. After a violent storm, the girls discover a mermaid at the bottom of the pool. As the days pass, Aquamarine's health wanes on account of the chlorinated water, and the girls orchestrate a Cinderella-esque romantic evening between Aquamarine and Raymond—on the condition that the mermaid return to the sea after that night, to heal. Hoffman creates an apt metaphor for that twilight time between childhood and adolescence when magic still seems possible and friendships run deep and true. Although her characters are sketched well, they are not fully realized; and while the language is lyrical (Aquamarine is "beautiful as a pearl" with a voice "as cool and fresh as bubbles rising from the ocean"), the narrative itself spins out in a coolly elegant, detached voice that evokes an adult's ("Maybe... they'd grow up and be just like all those other people who didn't know what it meant to have your best friend living right next door") and muffles much of the story's energy and potential. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
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