Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 8 to 12
- Grade: 3 to 7
Be brave and make a big splash!
Twelve-year-old Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher has to move, again.
The paparazzi are stalking Nat and her movie-star father. And it’s all her ex–best friend Solly’s fault . . . sort of. But Nat doesn’t want to think about that. Nat prefers to think of the possibilities ahead of her: the possibility that she’ll see whales on the beach near her new home, that Harry—who she just met—will be her new best friend, that she and her dad won’t have to move again again.
Most of all, Nat dreams of the possibility that her faraway mother misses and loves her—and is waiting for Nat to find her. Then, just as Nat is settling in to her new home, unexpected events, including a chance encounter with a whale, send her on a journey of self-discovery that will change her life—and quite possibly her father’s, Harry’s, and Solly’s too—forever.
About the author
Karen Rivers is the author of numerous novels, mostly for young adults. Her books have been nominated for a number of awards, including the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize and the Silver Birch Award. Karen has a BA in International Relations, which makes her an asset on any trivia team that emphasizes global politics in the late 1980s or early 1990s. As a lifelong hypochondriac, she once thought she'd be a doctor but realizes now that writing is a much more sensible career choice as it allows enough time to research symptoms on Google without having to actually go to medical school. Karen lives, reads and writes in a yellow house near the beach in Victoria, British Columbia, and can almost always be found online at www.karenrivers.com.
“A remarkable novel . . . Nat’s witty and vulnerable voice drives the novel, from her wry observations about contemporary celebrity culture to the thoughtful collection of untranslatable words that help define her world. The chapters that center Harry’s perspective are just as strong, emphasizing his desire to be seen and understood, not as an abstract exemplar of a transgender child but as an individual. The novel avoids offering simple solutions for questions of identity and adolescence, instead reveling in life’s nuance and complexity. Perfect for fans of Raymie Nightingale and Counting by Sevens, Rivers’ latest work brings an improbable combination of elements together in an unforgettable story that is quirky and wise.”
—School Library Journal
“Charming and sweet as it explores personal identity, life changes, love, and, of course, whales . . . Nat’s story of self-discovery is sure to inspire anyone searching for their place in the world.”
“A coming-of-age story that’s both relatable and moving . . . [Rivers] strikes the perfect tone of innocence, confusion and a touch of obstinance with Natalia, as she wades into the wild world of growing up . . . a bright, optimistic book that touches on growing up, celebrity visibility, transgender topics and more — refreshingly, and without being too weighed down with any insurmountably sombre notes.”