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Keeper by Kathi Appelt is about a ten year old girl trying to fix a day's worth of bad events. It all began with crabs and her overactive imagination. She has a plan to make everything right.
Keeper has been raised to believe her mother is a mermaid. She's been in Signe's care since she was three, living on a tiny road tucked between the Gulf of Mexico and a nature preserve. There are three houses and an old bus that serves as a surf shop.
Keeper's story is intertwined with the stories of the other people living on that strip of beach — Signe, Dogie, and Mr. Beauchamp. Appelt spins her tale in a free verse way, using repetition, poetic allusions, alliteration and the occasional list to create a compelling and quick read.
To everyone I've recommended the book to, I've described Keeper as the inverse of The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan. While Madigan's story is about a girl who is a mermaid but doesn't know it, Keeper is about a girl who believes she's a mermaid but probably isn't.
That isn't to say there aren't mermaids in Keeper. There are but how they play a part in the novel isn't what I expected. It was a delightful twist and one I'm not going to spoil here.