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Kids' Lit
by M. Wayne Cunningham

For 17-year-old Gwendolyn Cooke, the pleasantly likeable heroine of Terri Farley's Seven Tears Into The Sea, "the call of the sea" means more than it does for most others. For as Farley tells it through Gwen's voice, seven years earlier she was saved from drowning at Mirage Beach. Her rescuer, an unknown sea faring gypsy lad, had whispered to her, "Beckon the sea, I'll come to thee . . . Shed seven tears, perchance seven years" before sliding under the waves from where he had inexplicably appeared. Now, after living seven years with her family in a San Francisco suburb, Gwen has been mysteriously enticed to return to the site of her near death experience. She plans to stay for the summer in nearby Cooke's Cottage with her pet cat, Gumbo, and waitress at the Sea Horse Inn, the family resort owned and run by her mentoring grandmother, Nana Cooke, and Nana's life-long friend, the acerbic, no-nonsense, Theresa.
But Gwen's return is not to be totally triumphant. First she must outstare the locales, who are convinced that she had been abused by her rescuer. Then she must acclimatise to working with the demanding Theresa and insulate herself against "that lot from town causing havoc", the unemployed teenagers who try to physically intimidate Gwen. Then too she must grapple with her growing feelings for an attractive but mysterious local youth, Jesse, who lives alone in some undisclosed location. He appears and disappears at will along the shore and is constantly inviting her to swim with him out to sea. And then there is the inevitable call of the sea, again almost fatal, when Gwen gets tangled in some kelp but is mysteriously freed from it by a push from a passing sea lion-an experience all too similar to the one of several years earlier.
As summer progresses, Gwen learns the local lore and the legends of the nearby sea. She learns about the Summer Solstice celebrations and the feasting of Midsummer's Eve. She learns about the seafaring Selkies, the sea lions that morph into humans "so handsome they take your breath away." She learns of Nana's ability to read fortunes and futures in a burnished copper mirror and of the magic in the herbs and potions in her garden. Most importantly, perhaps, she experiences the depth of her love for Nana and a charismatic young man. Gwen and Jesse are crowned the King and Queen of Summer, and at the end of the season, after she learns about the nature of Jesse's unique attraction to the sea, she knows she must ultimately decide on whether and where to join him in "perchance seven years."
Farley has done a masterful job of creating a captivating story of young love, layered with myths of the sea and laced with the tensions and suspense of heroes and villains caught in the age-old struggle of good against evil. The telling is done in a refreshingly imaginative way and the resulting novel is well worth reading at any time of the year.

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