Schneider Family Book Award-winning author Ginny Rorby has created an irresistible dolphin story about a girl's struggle to help her autistic brother and herself. Lily loves her half-brother, Adam, but she has always struggled with him, too. He's definitely on the autism spectrum--though her step-father, Don, can barely bring himself to admit it--and caring for him has forced Lily to become as much mother as sister. All Lily wants is for her step-father to acknowledge that Adam has a real issue, that they need to find some kind of program that can help him. Then maybe she can have a life of her own. Adam's always loved dolphins, so when Don, an oncologist, hears about a young dolphin with cancer, he offers to help. He brings Lily and Adam along, and Adam and the dolphin--Nori--bond instantly. But though Lily sees how much Adam loves Nori, she also sees that the dolphin shouldn't spend the rest of her life in captivity, away from her family. Can Adam find real help somewhere else? And can Lily help Nori regain her freedom without betraying her family?
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The plot unfolds beautifully. On an action level, very few ‘big’ events occur, but the smallest actions become so crucial in this story, making the reader enormously invested in the end result. The writing carries and absorbs the reader from chapter to chapter, all of which feel quick with how easy it is to get wrapped up in the story line. The dialogue is especially top notch, mastering the voice and dynamic of each character, from Zoe to Don to Suzanne. Even the occasional excerpts from Nori’s mentality are remarkable and feel realistic.
Readers looking for a diverse, emotional, and important story would do well with How to Speak Dolphin. Lily and the cast of characters will capture your heart and leave room for important and necessary discussions. Ginny Rorby has a magnificent authorial voice, and I can’t wait to read more from this author.