Her mother's third marriage is only hours old when all hope for Clare's fifteenth summer fades. Before she knows it, Clare is whisked away to some ancient cottage on a tiny marsh island on Cape Cod to spend the summer with her father—a man she hasn't seen since she was three.
Clare's biological father barely talks, and when he does, he obsesses about endangered turtles. The first teenager Clare meets on the Cape confirms that her father is known as the town crazy person.
But there's something undeniably magical about the marsh and the island—a connection to Clare’s past that runs deeper than memory. Even her father's beloved turtles hold unexpected surprises. As Clare's father begins to reveal more about himself and his own struggle, Clare's summer becomes less of an exile and more of a return.
"A thoughtful teen reconnects with her nature-loving father on Cape Cod.
Fourteen year-old Clare is less than thrilled with her mother's plan to have her spend three weeks on a remote island with her father, Richard: She hasn't seen him in twelve years, and they only speak on Christmas. Vera and her third husband are jetting off to honeymoon in France, though, so Blackfish Island, ho! Richard isn't much of a conversationalist, but his diffident silence lets Clare come to appreciate, in her own time, her father and his work preserving the nests and habitat of the endangered Northern diamondback terrapin. Gradually, through walks on the beach, kayaking around the bay and board games, the two find their way toward an honest and loving relationship. Some obnoxious neighbors, walking clichés whose every move embodies thoughtless entitlement and ignorance of the island's natural rhythms, are the one weak spot here. Demas' careful seeding of details about Richard's life in the years between his divorce from Vera and his re-emergence in Clare's life is subtle enough that the revelation of what held him back from maintaining any substantive relationship with her will be surprising and ring true to most readers. Their father-daughter bond feels both earned and earnest.
A quiet, lovely story with a satisfyingly sentimental ending." —Kirkus Reviews—Journal
"Clare last saw her biological father when she was three years old. When her mother goes on a honeymoon with husband number three, the 15-year-old is forced to spend the summer on Cape Cod with the dad she only remembers from photos. Their tentative relationship is much like caring for the endangered northern diamondback terrapin her father studies and tries to save: they must tread lightly, give space, and allow events to happen when the timing is right. And like the terrapin's return to shore, Clare's return to the Cape is just as poignant. As she learns the real reasons behind her parents' divorce and the impact her father's undisclosed sexual orientation had on his decision to stay out of her life, she and her father not only begin to connect as parent and child but also as fellow adults. In this coming-of-age novel, Clare must also decide how she feels about her father's identity, especially when faced with friends' homophobia. A quiet, thoughtful story for sophisticated readers." —Booklist
"Her mother is getting married for the third time, and fifteen-year-old Claire is being shipped off to Cape Cod to visit her dad, with whom she has not had much contact since she was three. Claire is reluctant to go since they have never had a true father–daughter relationship, but she really has no choice. Their communication feels awkward at first, but soon they begin a natural, yet quiet, flow, and Claire even begins to bond with him as they work together on a project to protect endangered turtles. Claire finds out there is much about her dad that she did not know. He sheepishly tells her that he is gay and that his partner was killed in a terrible accident years ago. He confides that he thought it was better to stay away from her than to have her grow up knowing this information. This revelation affects Claire to her very core.
"While this novel is a nice example of good literature and is definitely well written, as far as teen literature goes, it has a slow pace and feels adult in tone. The story is heavy on character study, and nothing about the plot completely grabs readers to pull them through the book. It lacks the pizzazz of its teen literary counterparts. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it deals with having a homosexual parent, which is not prevalent in teen lit. How Claire deals with finding out about her father's sexuality rings true and is a positive example for those looking for true-to-life guidance. This is not a must-purchase but is recommended for larger teen collections with healthy budgets." —VOYA—Journal
"While her mother goes off for her honeymoon with her third husband, Clare is shipped off to spend the summer with her father, a man she hasn't seen since she was three. There's barely a road and no cell reception on the tiny island off Martha's Vineyard where he lives, and the summer residents know him simply as an eccentric whose obsession with turtles stands in the way of their grand houses. Clare wonders if she'll be able to connect with this man with whom she shares biology but little else. Although Clare is supposed to be 15, her dialogue—both interior and exterior—reads far younger. This is not such a deficit, as the delivery of the book's themes—environmental destruction and sexual acceptance—aim squarely at younger teens. A good title to bridge middle grade readers to slightly more mature stories and narratives." —School Library Journal—Journal
Corinne Demas is the award-winning author of numerous books for children and adults, including two short story collections, three novels, a memoir, and a collection of poetry. Her picture books include Always in Trouble, Saying Goodbye to Lulu, and The Littlest Matryoshka (written under the name Corinne Demas Bliss). Her new novel, The Writing Circle, was published this past summer. She is a Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College and a Fiction Editor of The Massachusetts Review. She lives with her family, her dog, and two miniature donkeys in Western Massachusetts and spends the summer on Cape Cod.