The Siren and the Whale
Twelve year-old Haitian orphan Marie's dreams come true in the siren’s undersea city—when everything real is at risk, she finds it difficult to wake up.
After rescuing Marie from a tsunami, the mythical siren promises to find her mother. All Marie has to do is stay in an underwater city and follow the siren’s rules. When she discovers a hallway filled with locked doors and a giant creature that frightens even the siren, Marie wonders what the siren is hiding. Her only friend is a girl who speaks in riddles and fears disobeying the siren.
Although the siren grants Marie the power to reshape the city to suit her imagination, Marie soon learns the siren’s gifts come at a terrible cost. As her dream city slowly replaces her memories of her past, Marie must face the ultimate decision: leave the city and lose her mother forever—or remain and lose everything else.
First 150 words:
Far below the ocean surface, off the coast of Haiti, a twelve year-old girl named Marie drifted along the currents. Dark waters wrapped around her like a cocoon as she slept fitfully. Her body twitched and jerked as images crashed and tossed in her mind. Children laughed and called her malsòti, or “weirdo”. An old woman with dreadlocks peered down over wire-rimmed glasses and scolded her for being disobedient. Their faces twirled and crashed together, becoming a giant wave that swallowed Marie, spinning her around and around until she couldn’t tell if she was up or down.
Help me! she screamed. Someone please help!
I’m here, dear one, a familiar voice said. I’ll protect you.
The waters in her dream parted, revealing her mother’s soft brown eyes that were the color of warm banana yam pudding. Thin lips stretched from one high cheekbone to the other in the most beautiful smile Marie could imagine.