I always sensed I would love White Dolphin by Gill Lewis. Even though, and I have to be honest here, I am not totally keen on animal stories. The good ones are so very good, while the others are just, well, about animals. And that’s not my kind of thing.
With White Dolphin I found myself racing through the book and loving it from start to finish. I suppose it’s partly that it’s set by the sea, which I love. But primarily this is a novel that manages to engage on so many levels that you just can’t help but be satisfied.
Kara (I’m guessing she is about 11 or 12) and her dad live with her aunt and her family, because they are hard up. Her mum disappeared a year ago and no one knows what happened to her. Both Kara and her dad are dyslexic and this causes her school mates to be unkind, but she gives as good as she gets.
This is not only about the white dolphin Kara sees out at sea, but the future of their fishing village. There are eco problems and worries about money and jobs. There’s her missing mum, and her heavily pregnant aunt, as well as Kara’s friendly little cousin Daisy. Kara’s dad owns a boat they love to go out on. And when a new boy starts at Kara’s school she finds she just can’t stand him.
For a book which I thought would be a fairly simple plot about a lonely girl and dolphins, this grew into something really quite complex, and very lovely. Most of the plot threads are resolved, but not always the way we’d like. But there’s hope.
You can tell Gill is a vet. She knows about animals, and I reckon this is what made White Dolphin so real. She could do worse than write her way through the animal kingdom.
(After our meeting last year and the challenge thrown down by the Dark Lord, I eagerly await Gill’s dung beetle saga. I bet she could make me care.)