Dolphins in the Mud
Dolphins in the Mud, Harmony Ink Press, 8/8/17
OptimuMM gives Dolphins in the Mud a 3 and says, “The book is really from the POV of a teenager, who feels the weight of his family on his shoulders.”
How can a young man rescue everyone when he’s entangled in his own net?
Chris Talberman is tired. Tired of taking responsibility for his autistic nine-year-old sister, Cece. Tired of his mother disappearing for hours at a time. Tired of having no friends and an oblivious father.
When a pod of dolphins is stranded in the cove by Chris’s home, his life changes. It starts when Cece runs toward the water’s edge and Chris must pursue her. That’s where Chris meets Noah Silver. Noah’s life of travel and homeschooling intrigues Chris, and the two begin a friendship they both hope will lead to more.
But when Chris’s mother abandons the family, Chris’s responsibilities increase exponentially. He’s only sixteen, but he knows how to take care of Cece better than their father. Chris wants to lean on Noah for support, but Noah is hiding an untreated mental illness—which could lead to tragedy.
The next morning, I woke up to silence. My bedroom was on the main floor of the house, and Mom or Cece almost always woke me rattling around in the kitchen or living room. I didn’t understand why I didn’t hear anything outside my door. For a couple minutes, I forgot Mom wasn’t there and wondered if maybe she’d overslept. I had; my clock radio showed that it was six thirty already, and my bus showed up at seven. So did Cece’s van.
Then I remembered what had happened the day before, and I jumped out of bed and started getting ready for school as fast as I could.
Cece was in the living room when I came out of the shower. She’d gotten herself out of bed, apparently, since Dad was nowhere in sight. Cece had even dressed herself. Her shirt was inside out and her purple pants clashed badly with the bright yellow shirt. I didn’t figure her school would care if she matched, but they probably would say something about the shirt.
“Hey, kiddo, we need to fix your shirt,” I said.
She glared at me and shook her head.
“It’s inside out,” I said. “You don’t want to go to school like that, do you?”
She stared out the window at a bird that had just landed on the deck rail and didn’t answer. I hadn’t figured she would. The school would just have to deal with her wearing her shirt wrong.
I went over to Cece’s schedule. By that time, she should already have had breakfast and brushed her teeth, and I didn’t think she’d done either. Despite how fast I’d showered and dressed, it was quarter to seven already, which meant she and I had to leave in fifteen minutes. And she hated to be rushed.
Dad should have been up. He should have been the one getting Cece ready, not me. But he apparently was still in bed, and I didn’t have time to try to wake him.
“Cece, come to the table,” I said. “We’re going to race to see who can eat breakfast fastest.”
I poured some of her favorite cereal into a bowl, with no milk because she couldn’t eat cereal with milk on it, and put the bowl on the table. For myself, I slapped a couple pieces of baloney between two pieces of bread. I usually had breakfast at school, but I figured if I ate now, maybe Cece would go along with the race thing.
She did, and she won. She ended up with a bunch of pieces of cereal on the table and floor, but she’d eaten, and that was the important thing. After that, I somehow managed to have both of us ready to walk out the door just before seven, and I was pretty sure I hadn’t even forgotten anything either of us needed.
I took her to her van first and explained the situation with Mom to the driver. Because of that, I almost missed my bus. Fortunately the driver saw me running behind him waving and waited for me.
By the time I arrived at school, I was so tired I wanted to go back to bed. I made a mental note to set my alarm for the next morning so I wouldn’t have to rush so much. I’d have to rely on myself to get ready in the mornings from then on, and probably to get Cece ready too. When I realized that, it hit me all over again that Mom had actually taken off on us, and she might not come back. That made me want to go back to bed even more.