Kirkus Review

THE FACE IN THE WAVE, Joanne Rode (126 pp.) $7.99 paperback, $4.99 e-book ISBN: 978-0-692-13348-4; August 27, 2018

BOOK REVIEW  Rode’s debut middle-grade novel tells the story of a dolphin aficionado who discovers a mermaid.  Thirteen-year-old Greydon Hubbard’s mother is in desperate need of a new lung, and the situation is causing a great deal of stress for his evolutionary biologist father and his uncle, a medical doctor. Greydon distracts himself by volunteering in the dolphin area of the Marine World zoological park. Recently, while surfing, Greydon saw a pair of dolphins in the ocean—but they weren’t alone: “A girl’s face briefly appeared between the two dolphins, a luminous face with piercing blue-topaz eyes.” Greydon’s older brother, Jake, didn’t see the girl, but Greydon knows in his heart that she was real. Indeed, he becomes convinced that he’s seen a real-life mermaid. His ailing mother encourages him in this idea, but his brother and his friends think that it’s insane. Greydon sees the girl again, however, and soon learns that he can communicate with her telepathically—a power that his mother attributes to the circumstances surrounding his birth. Can he protect the mermaid from humankind? Rode’s prose is highly descriptive, but it’s also propulsive, moving the story along with the speed of a surfboard on ocean waves: “The ocean pulsated with a powerful force beneath Greydon’s board….Skimming along the top with exhilarating swiftness, he pivoted right and was surrounded by a curl of vivid blue seclusion and soft spray.” Along the way, the author has the protagonist—and the reader—grapple with various moral issues involving Greydon’s mother’s health, his father’s and uncle’s scientific work, and the treatment of dolphins at Marine World. Rode makes sure that young readers fully understand the similarities between dolphins and humans, as well.  A thoughtful oceanic novel with a touch of fantasy.