Monday, February 18, 2013

REVIEW: "DOLPHIN GIRL" - by Shel Delisle

Title: “Dolphin Girl
Author: Shel Delisle
Publisher: Something Else Publishing
Publication Date: October 26, 2011
Genre: YA, Romance
Reviewed by: Books4Tomorrow
Source: Won in Giveaway
My star rating: 4/5


Jane Wants The Life Of A Dolphin. 
Wild. Graceful. Free. 

But these days her life is nothing like that. Between her mother’s strict rules and the cliques at school, she feels strapped in a child-sized life vest. It’s not until Jane gets a tattoo and befriends popular Sam Rojas, a star on the school’s swim team, that her life feels freer. She begins to wonder: Is there a way to be myself and not be alone? 

While she navigates these murky waters, a wave of events crash down on her, separating her from her family, her best friend Lexie and Sam, who Jane's fallen fin over tail for. Now she must figure out how to surf through rough seas without having everything she cares about pulled under. 

DOLPHIN GIRL, author Shel Delisle’s first novel, is a story of family, friendship, first loves and most importantly – freedom.


I won this book in a giveaway, so I’ve had it on my TBR list for quite some time. It took me a few days to finish, but I really enjoyed it. It doesn’t follow the usual YA formula where girl instantly falls in love with boy and the rest of the book they try to get ino each other’s pants. No, this was, thank goodness, very different. Also, I’m not very big on teenage angst and drama, but the author wrote these two elements into the story really well without it making me feel like pulling out my hair.

Jane’s life is not perfect. In fact, her family gives new dimension to the term “dysfunctional”. She is also not accepted by the in-crowd at school and neither is she the ever popular YA protagonist who knows she’s beautiful, but is oblivious to boys falling over their feet to get to her. It was easy to relate to her because Jane was really…plain, and without pretense. For a change it was so good to read about the girl in the unpopular crowd falling in love with the guy in the popular crowd, instead of the other way around.  I liked her friends, I liked the guy she falls in love with, and believe it or not, I even sort of liked her mom. OK, maybe “like” is too strong a word, but I guess I kind of understood her mom’s point of view. I myself am not a paranoid parent, but I do understand how unreasonably overprotective we feel about our kids sometimes. But, I also have to say that I wish Jane stood up to her mother on the issue of her choice of dress she wanted to wear to the Snow Ball. I don’t know any teenager who would’ve left this point uncontested. Anyway, their ups and downs actually added a lot of depth to the story and I appreciate the effort put into the story by bringing in the constant conflicts between Jane and her mom, and Jane and her ex best friend.

So by now, everyone knows I’m not a fan of romance. Dolphin Girl is a good example of the romance I do like to read. The first half of the book is spent on Jane and Sam becoming friends and then later on how their friendship turned into something deeper and more intimate. The author didn’t throw them at each other and then force the romance in the reader’s face. Their love and them realizing they’re falling in love with each other, happened gradually and realistically. Their attraction to each other wasn’t based on their “hotness” or good looks, but rather on their average looks and their phenomenal personalities – flaws and all. It was clear to me the author was in touch with her characters and their emotions and she skillfully translated this to the reader. The main storyline may be about Jane wanting to have the same freedom as dolphins, but it is a multi-layered story which not only deals with her teenage angst, but also with how much rope any parent is willing to give their child at the expense of their future.

The only down points for me in this book were the constant “dolphin girl” references and obsession with this dolphin girl costume which I simply didn’t get. Somehow I couldn’t put two and two together on how she’ll be able to hear dolphin voices in her head, and I couldn’t understand why someone – anyone, really – would want to dress up like a dolphin and go to a school dance dressed as a dolphin. On the positive side, this is a really terrific story and what made it even better were the interesting tidbits about dolphins at the start of every chapter as well as the to-do list, reasons-her-life-sucks list, and the scavenger hunt list at the end of the book. 

Dolphin Girl is a good, clean, effortless read for a rainy day when you need a book that will touch your heart in all the right places. I’ll definitely read more books by this author and I commend her for splendid characterization which allowed me to connect with her characters with ease.


Dolphin Girl by Shel Delisle has 23 reviews on Goodreads. Read it here.



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