THE AQUAMARINE SURFBOARD
Middle Grade / Magical Realism / Fantasy
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Page Count: 290 pages
Publication Date: November 22, 2021
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“Age never matters; these things are about bravery and heart.”
Thirteen-year-old Condi Bloom’s dream is to learn to surf, but her laid-back beach town isn’t what it used to be. Big resort owners are taking over the cove. Worse, someone’s harassing the Beachlings, the mysterious old women living in the cliffs off Windy Hollow, a lonely tower of rock that people say is haunted. When a new surfer boy named Trustin shows up in town and invites Condi to a forbidden surfing spot, she’s swept into an extraordinary underwater adventure, where a surprising encounter with Koan, the Riddlemaster of the Sea, changes her life. Along with Trustin, his quirky twin and a mystical aquamarine surfboard, Condi learns the untold stories of the Beachlings, uncovering the timeless secrets of Windy Hollow.
Ebbing and flowing between reality and magic, times past and present, The Aquamarine Surfboard by Kellye Abernathy is a riveting beach tale about opening up to mystery, building community when and where you can — and discovering the ocean is filled with magic—the really BIG kind—the kind that changes the world.
Thirteen-year-old Condi Bloom wants nothing more than to surf with the other kids, but she can’t. No money for a board and wetsuit, and even if she could afford them, Grand Ella wouldn’t allow it. Condi’s grandmother is raising her, and after Condi’s parents died in a sailing accident, Grand Ella wants to keep Condi well clear of the ocean’s power and danger.
Dipitous Beach used to be a friendly little town, where everyone pulled together and helped each other out. But resorts came and brought resort people, people with money who thought the Beachlings, the old women who made their homes in caves above the beach, were a disgrace. They thought Something Needed to Be Done about the situation.
When mysterious new boy Trustin shows up in town, though, things start to change. He invites Condi to a forbidden surfing spot, and she’s whisked underwater for a peculiar encounter with Koan, ruler of the undersea realm. Koan gives Condi a charge to bring about change for the better, but she has no memory of it once she’s back on land – just a white shell in her pocket that she has no idea how she got.
This is a wonderful book for anyone from middle grade up through adult (I’m middle-aged, not middle grade, and I loved it). Kellye Abernathy has a lyrical, easy-to-read writing style that makes the pages zip by, and Condi is such a likable, realistic character. She misses her parents, but she still wants to fit in with kids her age. She’s been hurt by a friend’s rejection, but is still worried about how that friend’s boyfriend treats her. She’s a good kid, by and large, and I wanted good things for her as I read.
I enjoyed the magical realism of the book. When Trustin made his appearance, I figured he wasn’t necessarily what he appeared to be, and I wasn’t disappointed! The underwater adventure that he and Condi go on happens early in the book and is surprisingly brief, but it impacts the rest of the story. I thought the use of antique surfboards as gateways to past events and town history was fascinating. And the story of Maddie, one of the Beachlings, and her dog Lucky had me smiling and crying all at the same time. It was simply beautiful.
The message of the story is one that is pertinent for what feels like a heavily divided society today, shared through the lens of an incoming hurricane and its potential impact on the town. Grand Ella, Condi, Condi’s friend Lorelei, and others don’t abandon the Beachlings when danger is drawing near. No, they do everything in their power to encourage the women to relocate, opening their homes and businesses to make safe places for them to stay. They lead by example to help change the hearts and minds of those who might think of the Beachlings as somehow less than because they chose a different lifestyle. We should all be so considerate and welcoming of those who may not be quite like us. Condi finds her place in the world and helps the Beachlings find theirs, too.
Does Condi ever get to surf? Well, now, you’re just going to have to grab the book and read it yourself to find out!
The Aquamarine Surfboard is enchanting, easy to read, and offers lots of opportunities for discussion and further reading (if you don’t want to learn more about weather and the ocean after reading this book, I’m not sure you’ve been paying attention!). It gets five stars from me.
Here’s Grand Ella’s recipe for Lavender Honey Muffins. Don’t they sound delicious? Try the recipe and let me know how you like it!
Kellye Abernathy’s passions are writing and serving trauma survivors as a yoga teacher and practical life skills advocate. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary English Education from the University of Kansas. Her home is in land-locked Plano, Texas—where she’s dreaming of her next trip to the sea!
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LOVE this review and how it sounds like all these different elements crash together for a satisfying, thought-provoking story. I cannot wait to read it. Thanks for sharing!
My pleasure! And you know I’ll have to come back and post when I make the muffins.
How nice that you got a recipe to share. And your review was so perfect. Hit all the reasons that I enjoyed the story so much.
This review made me so happy! Thank yiu.
You are most welcome! Thank you for stopping by my blog!