This suspenseful contemporary tale delivers the believable adventure story of an eighteen-year-old who embarks on a rebellious quest and finds romance and danger in the Florida Everglades. Arcadia, or Cadie, is overwhelmed by her responsibilities since her mother died. She needs a weekend off from her dysfunctional family life and finds much more than she intended at a campfire party. The adventure turns deadly when she takes a road trip with two irresistible cousins and falls hard for one of them. Their family history is mythic in its rivalry, with many clues scattered along the path like breadcrumbs.
The writing is compelling and gripping as readers sit on the edges of their seats hoping Cadie will emerge safely. The trip is a metaphor for the transition from adolescence to adulthood in many ways. The sexual awakening of the protagonist is well written, though perhaps more appropriate for older teens (and many adults), and would translate well into a successful film. The author acknowledges the influence of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Ice Palace on her story. Teens will identify with Cadie’s quest for independence and the unintended consequences that result. The tension builds, and readers know crocodiles lie in wait, but for whom readers must wait an excruciatingly long while to discover. Cadie is torn between the love for her young brother and her father, and resentment over the burden she must bear. Falling in love proves dangerous as well. The story has a satisfying conclusion, leaving room for a sequel or two. This is a highly recommended purchase for medium to large public library collections.
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