Atmosphere Press 2022
Paperback, 290 pages
A magical story featuring topics that are relevant to the middle-grade age group and will entice readers to read beyond the book.
Orphaned Condoleeza “Condi” Bloom lives with her grandmother overlooking the beach near the surfing community of Dipitous Beach. The town has always been casual and close-knit, but wealthy resort owners had recently bought in and wanted to change it into a rich tourist destination.
Condi loves watching the surfers, many of them classmates, and longs to join them. But Grand Ella can’t afford to buy a surfboard or the wetsuit necessary for their cold water, so Condi has to dream and save up. To the kids in school, she is the quiet, sad girl, and even her best friend, Anda, has dropped her.
Anda, uncomfortable with her friend’s grief, moves on to a relationship with Javed Holmes. He’s popular, good-looking, and a talented surfer, but he’s also a bully. Anda becomes somewhat of a “mean girl,” and Condi is a convenient target. But glimpses of bruises on Anda’s arms and Javed’s demeaning treatment of her tell Condi that Anda is also a victim. The story explores how Condi and Anda handle their changing relationship and the bullying.
Condi meets a friendly new boy, Trustin, on the beach one day, and he urges her to watch him surf. She watches him gracefully slice across the waves when he suddenly loses his balance, failing to resurface. Condi rushes to his rescue only to find herself sucked under the waves and into a watery wonder-filled world, where Trustin is waiting.
Author Kellye Abernathy’s descriptions of this watery world are beautiful and create an ethereal setting for revealing that Trustin isn’t who he says he is and has a hidden purpose for being in Dipitous Beach. Abandoned surfboards serve as a unique device to reveal the past to Condi. However, the underwater episode may be difficult for younger readers to follow.
In addition to Condi’s struggles, there is the issue of the Beachlings. For decades, a group of women has lived simple and unconventional lives in sea caves carved into the cliffs overlooking the cove. They keep the beaches free of washed-up debris and trash left by the tourists from the fancy resorts. Few of the locals really know the women, and there has been a concerted effort recently to run them off. Grand Ella’s sunrise beach yoga class becomes the gateway to connecting the community and women when a devastating hurricane threatens the entire town.
With its engaging, underdog heroine and breathtaking, evocative storytelling, The Aquamarine Surfboard is a magical tale of growing up, reaching for your dreams, and connecting with others, even if they are different from you. Recommended for middle-grade readers, parents, and teachers, The Aquamarine Surfboard’s inclusion of history, science, and surfing offers multiple avenues for further discussion of topics relevant to this age group and provides springboards for further reading on such topics as the Ring of Fire, World War II submarines, sea life, and surfing.
Plano resident Kellye Abernathy is a former business executive happily transformed into a writer. She is an advocate and yoga teacher for women and kids affected by domestic violence, poverty, and homelessness. She believes in creatively building unique and supportive communities—by sharing stories and discovering the many ways we are the same.