cover image The Dolphin House

The Dolphin House

Audrey Schulman. Europa, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-60945-784-6

Set in 1965 and based on a true story, the engrossing latest from Schulman (Theory of Bastards) explores a young St. Thomas woman’s connection to dolphins. Cora, 21, who is Deaf but can hear underwater, comes across four dolphins that are part of a research project led by Dr. Blum, a Harvard professor. Blum, sensing the connection between Cora and the dolphins, hires her, initially to keep the dolphins happy and study their interactions, and eventually to teach them English. Blum also orders the construction of a “homearium” for Cora to live in with an adolescent male dolphin, Junior. Cora commits to the work, both due to her fascination with the dolphins as well as her desire to keep Blum from performing dangerous surgeries on them. But as she succeeds in her tasks, she draws ire from Blum’s colleagues, who view her as unqualified since she lacks formal training. Schulman does a good job describing Cora’s experience communicating with her hearing colleagues (“She repeated her words, pushing the words out with her gut, trying to feel for the right level of sound in her mouth”) and touchingly conveys her bond with the dolphins. This is worth plunging into. (Apr.)