Both Marshmallow and Caramel love dolphins. Today Marshmallow reviews a book by Karen Hesse about a girl raised by dolphins: The Music of Dolphins. The book raises questions about what it means to be human and what it means to belong.
Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books that are about friendship, family, or nature, then this might be the book for you.
Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Mila was raised by dolphins since the age of four. At the beginning of the book she is found on an unpopulated island, and she is brought to a research facility. At the facility, Doctor Beck and Sandy teach her how to be more human. They teach her to talk and give her a recorder. Mila starts playing it and discovers music. Doctor Beck and Sandy are like a new family for her. At this facility, Mila meets another girl named Shay, who is another feral child and becomes like a little sister to her.
Mila eventually discovers that she was on her way from Cuba to the United States with her mother and her brother when something went wrong and her mother and brother drowned. She learns who her father is and that her birth given name is Olivia. From this she can piece together her story: After her mother and brother died, she was rescued by dolphins and adopted by her dolphin mother, who had recently lost her own child and upon finding Mila/Olivia, raised her as her own. But Mila/Olivia feels like she was raised by the dolphins, meaning that they are the first family she knows of, and though she likes being human, she still wants to return to the sea. She makes music that reminds her of her dolphin family.
Marshmallow’s Review: I think that the author did a very good job of writing through Mila/Olivia’s perspective. The Music of Dolphins is a work of fiction, but the author does an excellent job creating the inner world of a feral child, which is a real phenomenon that I did not know much about before. When you read the book, you think you are reading the words that Mila wrote. The writing also displays where Mila is in her journey. The font size and the sentence complexity change as Mila becomes more fluent in human language.
Mila is a very relatable character and so are most of the other characters. You can feel Mila’s joy and curiosity and sadness, and you can understand the feelings of the other people, too, though you see those through Mila’s eyes. I think it is really sad that Mila didn’t get to know her human parents and family, but it is good that a pod of dolphins basically adopted her. You can sense how much she loves them and how much joy there was in her life with them.
The Music of Dolphins is also easy to read and understand. The chapters are really short, most are about a couple pages long. The plot is not complicated, so you can’t really get confused about the story. Mila and her family’s voyage to the United States reminded me of Isabel in Refugee by Alan Gratz. The plot reminded me of yet another book, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, not because the title has dolphins in it, but because the main character in both books is a girl who grows up mostly without human contact.
I think the way The Music of Dolphins ends works really well because the reader is unsure what is going to happen. The ending is both happy and sad. I won’t spoil it by saying more. All in all, I think that The Music of Dolphins is a very good book and I would recommend it to everyone.
Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.