Sylvester, Natalia

Breathe and Count Back from Ten

(2) YA In this powerful story set in the fictitious Florida city of Mermaid Cove, Sylvester blends the compelling struggle of a young woman trying to find her voice with the effects of living with a serious medical condition. When Verónica swims in her apartment-complex pool, everything else disappears; the water blurs the pain and the scars of her many hip surgeries and helps her forget that doctors, nurses, and others seemingly have more control of her body than she does herself. The water is as much her home as it is for the mermaid performers she admires in Mermaid Cove's tourist attraction. But her Peruvian immigrant parents are ­serious only about work, academics, and being model citizens, and they insist that mermaid tales are a childish obsession she needs to forget. When a lucky opportunity presents itself, Verónica will have to decide what--and who--defines her. Peruvian folklore and facts about Florida are seamlessly integrated into the skillful first-person narration, and each chapter begins with a term's dictionary ­definition followed by Verónica’s definition. An appended author's note tells more about the real town on which Mermaid Cove was based, the condition of hip ­dysplasia, and the Peruvian legend of Huacachina.


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