This is a delightful story about a little girl who visits her grandmother in a bayou in Louisiana. Her three older sisters have all had a turn staying all summer with their grandmother, and they tell her they don’t want to go back. Maddy has always felt she was different from her sisters, but during this trip, she learns just how different she really is.
Maddy feels she is truly at home in the bayou. She learns to listen to nature. She learns that she comes from an African woman who could speak to the water spirit, Mami Wata. She learns how to make friends. She learns she has magical powers and can communicate with Mami Wata. Bear, the boy she meets in the bayou, teaches her how to enjoy life even though his life is far from enjoyable. It appears that he is enhancing her life, but in the end she saves him.
The setting is the summer of the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico,with an obvious lesson about the environmental impact of deep sea drilling. Also present in the book is familial abuse and its causes. It might be a little disturbing for some younger readers. However, I think the story is well written, and I recommend this book for readers age nine through twelve.