If you were born in the sea, and lived your whole life by the sea, surrounded only by those quirky characters who are somewhat broken and can only exist by the sea, then it seems that your whole belief system, what you know to be true, is based on the fractured lives of those around you. So it is for a 10-year-old girl, born in the sea by a laughing, footloose and fancy free young woman, named Meggie Marie. Meggie Marie is irresponsible and irrepressible, and when her daughter is three, she swims off, literally, yelling to her housemate, “Keep her!” Signe, the housemate, is a mere 18 years old and suddenly becomes mother to the girl, now known as ‘Keeper.’ Signe came to live with Meggie Marie as a 15-year-old runaway, who needed freedom from her family. She was there at Keeper’s birth. Trying her best to do right by Keeper, Signe perpetuates the myth that Keeper is a ‘merchild,’ born in the sea, and her mother, a mermaid. Keeper listens and learns all about sea lore from neighbors and friends, and believes she herself has a special connection to the sea. On a day when everything in the world seems to go wrong, Keeper sets out, with her dog, in a small boat to go to the sandbar where she believes her mermaid mother waits for her. Things continue to go wrong; the tide, the waves, the darkness, the time, until Keeper experiences memories and fears when she realizes her mother wasn’t a mermaid, she has no special connection with the sea, and that her mother abandoned her. She realizes it is really Signe who is her real family. Exhausted and unable to stay awake any longer, Keeper succumbs to sleep. While dozing, a merman (with a connection to one of those quirky neighbors) pushes her small boat to safety and rescues her dog. Appelt does a good job with character development, and although the story moved at a decent pace, it took pages and pages for it to do so. It is 399 pages, however, half of those are pretty much white space. A poignant story of how we should not fabricate stories of lost loved ones. The truth, no matter how painful, is necessary in order to survive.