Aria of the sea
by Dia Calhoun
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Against great odds, 13-year-old Cerinthe Gale, a commoner from the outer regions of the kingdom, is chosen to study at the Royal School of Dance of Windward. She feels that she is on the way to fulfilling the dreams that her late mother had for her. This is important, for Cerinthe feels responsible for her death. As her mother lay desperately ill, the girl, a beginning folk healer, treated her with a dangerous drug, and the woman died. At the dance school, she meets Elliana, a wealthy and talented classmate who takes an immediate dislike to Cerinthe. As the rivalry between these two builds to its devastating climax, Cerinthe struggles to understand why she does not find fulfillment in dancing, and why she no longer hears the song of the Goddess Sea Maid. Ultimately, this is a story about recognizing and responding to one's calling. It is only when a reckless wager ends in a horrible accident that Cerinthe chooses to use her gifts as a healer and saves the life of her nemesis. She is then able to see that her real passion is for caring for the sick. This is a powerful message, which flows naturally out of the story line without ever being didactic. This fine story has elements of fantasy reminiscent of Monica Furlong's Wise Child (1989) and its sequel Juniper (1991, both Knopf; o.p.) as well as realistic descriptions of dance practice and performance.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
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