Compelling, character driven, and full of teenage exploits, Marina Kuperman's young adult novel, Turtle Feet, Surfer's Beat is a fabulous read.
Penelope Lennox is not a happy young woman. Her boyfriend just broke up with her and she has been dragged away from all her friends to travel with her family to Costa Rica for her father's photography assignment. And to make matters worse, her mother has signed her up for a two-week volunteer session at the Leatherback Turtle Biological Center. As if this wasn't enough to make Penelope want to retreat to her room for the rest of her life, the whole reason she got dragged along on this outing is because her parents are trying to find a way to live with one another so that they don't end up divorcing.
In walks Kendall Browne, a stunning-looking surfer who is committed to helping save the Leatherback Turtle from extinction. Penelope can't believe that a guy like Kendall could give her one passing glance, never mind ask her out. Everything seems to be looking up. Her parents are getting along and Penelope's thrilled that her parents forced her to join them. Until the night that Penelope and her brother, Sam, get lost on the way to meet Kendall and Kendall gets the wrong idea about why they didn't show up. But Sam isn't going to let a little thing like Penelope's pride get in the way of going to the surfing competition and watching Kendall ride the waves.
Turtle Feet, Surfer's Beat is a great read from beginning to end. Told entirely from Penelope's point of view, readers can immediately relate to her whether they are ten or one hundred and ten--though I hoped to forget how sarcastic I was at that age. Kuperman turns Penelope's entire life upside down and then says, "Okay kid, what are you going to do with it?" And Penelope never once disappoints you with what she can accomplish.
Kuperman's knowledge of surfing comes to life in this book. From the lingo, to the fashion, to the the thrill of the competitions, Kuperman brings you onto the beaches of Costa Rica and gets you hanging ten with the locals.
Turtle Feet, Surfer's Beat by Marina Kuperman will, without a doubt, capture the reader with its compelling storylines and its well-developed characters. Readers will sympathize with Penelope's plight because it connects so well with the trials and tribulations young people deal with every day. And while they will cheer and cry over Penelope's victories and defeats, they will never forget how she discovered her place in this world and how much fun she had making a difference in the life of the Leatherback Turtle.
Note: Look for my interview with Marina Kuperman coming to The Book Connection on October 23rd.