A Juniper Sawfeather Novel #1
Cry of the Sea
by D. G. Driver
Juniper Sawfeather is choosing which college to attend after graduation from West Olympia High School next year. She wants to go to San Diego to be far away from her environmental activist parents. They expect her to think the way they do, but having to be constantly fighting causes makes it difficult to be an average seventeen-year-old high school student. Why do her parents have to be so "out there?"
Her feelings on the subject are changed when she and her father rush to the beach after a reported oil spill. As they document the damage, June discovers three humans washed up on the beach, struggling to breathe through the oil coating their skin. At first she thinks they must be surfers, but as she gets closer, she finds out that these aren't humans at all. They're mermaids!
Now begins a complex story of intrigue, conspiracy and manipulation as June, her parents, a marine biologist and his handsome young intern, her best friend, the popular clique at school and the oil company fight over the fate of the mermaids.
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What Reviewers are Writing About
Cry of the Sea by D. G. Driver
"What an amazing story! Juniper (June) is a young woman of substance and holds firm to who she is despite heavy pressure from her parents and peers at school. She's the kind of role model for girls that I love to see in YA books… If you're looking for a book with a strong heroine and something fresh and unique to offer, this is for you."
— Cullen House Book Reviews
"There is something about this book that is so absorbing, that you do not want to put it down. Juniper is the sort of fictional character I want to invite around for tea and have a chat with. The story is good and very interesting. It is a brilliant concept. For me this is a must read book."
— Reading Ledge
"This story has so much depth, it's really quite a fantastic experience to be diving into it. I loved the complex, mature and meaningful plotline, with all the difficult and relevant subjects it explored. It was an eye-opening read, at times really shocking and heart-breaking, and definitely one I won't soon forget. This is a great, mold-breaking YA for those who want more from their books than just silly romance stories and sparkling mythical creatures. It's a story of bravery, dedication, protecting all those things that are unable to protect themselves, and making a difference. An inspiring, insightful, powerful tale with great characters and interesting plot developments. I really enjoyed reading Cry of the Sea and would not hesitate to recommend it to teenagers and adults alike."
"Cry of the Sea takes a look at mermaids from a brand new perspective, retelling the classic fairy tale with a fresh new twist. A great story for readers of all ages, I think this one will resonate especially strongly with its intended young adult audience."
"Cry of the Sea was unlike any mermaid story I've ever read. It was full of intrigue, passion, activism with a great message and it had a satisfying end."
— Tome Tender
"Cry of the Sea by D. G. Driver was a very interesting book about the mystery behind mermaids. It was structured differently than any other mermaid book I have read for the young adult audience… I would recommend it to people if they wanted to read about a mermaid story that was more realistic."
— Wanderlust for Books
“You ready to see how the next big change in your life is going to look?”
That was my dad, cheerfully holding the door open as he escorted me into the gym at school for College Night. He was excited to have me shake hands with the representative from Washington University and get that ball rolling. I didn’t know then that the next big change in my life would happen in less than twelve hours—and it would have nothing to do with which college I picked.
When we first entered the room Dad immediately scanned all the booth banners to find his target. The moment he saw it, he grabbed my hand and yanked me in that direction. I actually wanted to look at some of the other booths, and I had told him that in the car.
His response? “Why bother?”
Full of smiles and giddy as if he were sending me to prom instead of a night of gathering brochures, he told me that once Mom got back from her business trip we’d all go to the University together and tour the campus. Maybe Mom would take me to some of her classrooms and old haunts. I told him I couldn’t wait.
But I was lying.
Lucky for me, the path to the Washington U. booth was filled with half a dozen teachers I’d had at one point or another. We couldn’t go more than a couple steps at a time without one of them accosting us and saying something obnoxious like, “You must be June’s proud father!” I’d smile painfully and nod that it was indeed my father standing next to me. Then there would be lots of hand shaking and bragging about how their magnificent teaching skills motivated me to be such a great student. Dad loved it and was happy to share with them how I was as brilliant as my mother, and that I shared all their interests.
I let him bask in all that glory on his own, using each teacher’s approach as an opportunity to sneak in stops at booths and take hand-outs from happy, enthusiastic college representatives. These friendly people hadn’t seen my grade average or SAT scores yet. They didn’t need to with the big show of my dad and teachers going on behind me. Besides, when they took in my darker skin and straight, long black hair, their eyes got so big. Juniper Sawfeather would be a great addition to their campuses, because they could add my American Indian heritage to their statistics and boast about their diverse communities.
Everyone was so cheerful. So welcoming. They had no idea that I was a social outcast and that my dad, Peter Sawfeather, the most outspoken Environmental Activist on the West Coast, was to blame.
For one night, though, I put aside dealing with the reality of my life as I knew it. We were a happy dad and daughter dreaming about my future. Different dreams but both good ones. We both wound up getting what we wanted from the event and arrived home later that evening in pretty good moods, laughing about the chances of me attending Brown or Stanford or Yale. Dad teased me about sending me to an all-girl university.
“I’ll kill you,” I said to him.
“Why?” He laughed. “It’s not like you hang out with any boys now.”
“I just haven’t found that special boy who likes to picket loggers at five in the morning.”
He smiled broadly. “I don’t see why not. What could be more romantic than an early morning protest? You get to shout and scream with each other. Show lots of emotion. Plus, you get to cuddle up to stay warm. That’s what your mom and I do.”
“Dad!” I whined at him. “So not cool to talk to your seventeen-year-old daughter about cuddling with boys!”
I smacked him playfully and chased him around the living room. I grabbed that long, black Willy Nelson braid he always has trailing down his back and pulled him off balance. He made a big show of falling onto the couch. I collapsed into the armchair.
“I win!” I shouted. We both laughed as we gasped for air. As he struggled back to his feet, I noticed for the first time how a little gray had started to streak his hair. Would I age as gracefully as he had over the years? Even with all his hard work and worry, he still looked really young for a guy in his fifties. He only had a few small wrinkles around those brown eyes and between his dark eyebrows. Since I was the spitting image of him, broad nose, dark skin and all, I hoped I wouldn’t get a gray hair until later in life either.
The phone ringing interrupted our fun and games as my dad jumped up to answer it. He always tried to answer the phone before it rang a second time no matter where he was in the house. It turned out to be Mom calling from Alaska checking in for the night.
While Dad talked on the phone, I went into the kitchen and sifted through the college catalogs and pulled out the ones I knew I’d never attend. Princeton, Harvard, Yale, the all-girl schools, and Washington State University all found the trashcan a convenient place to hide from snooping parental eyes. I’d have put them in the recycle bin, but unfortunately (and hadn’t I heard years of my parents complaining about this?) glossy magazines aren’t recyclable. Plus, the trashcan has a lid, and I kind of tucked them way down toward the bottom.
With the remaining catalogs, I made piles of the places I really wanted to go, the places more likely to accept me, and the places I would go if no one else accepted me. None of my choices, even the most pathetic of them all, were within four hundred miles of Olympia, my lovely, cold, and wet hometown.
“June,” my dad called. I poked my head around the corner and saw him holding out the phone with his hand over the mouthpiece. “Your mother wants to talk to you.” He whispered, “She’s had a long day.”
Great. She’d want to talk to me about College Night, and she was already in a bad mood. With the catalogs pressed against my chest, I walked over to the sofa and took the phone from my dad. I sucked in a deep breath of patience and said, “Hi Mom.”
Dad started preparing dinner while Mom repeated a lot of what she had just told him about her day. I pretended I didn’t know what she was talking about, so she could keep going on about herself and stay away from the topic of my day. Of course I knew what she did for a living. Everyone knew. She was on the TV news and in the newspapers all the time doing it. My mom was a lawyer, whose main objective was to fight environmental legal battles with CEO’s of major companies all over the world. That was her mission in life—to destroy big companies to save polar bears, owls, whales and ancient trees.
“So wait, Mom, what company is this?”
Mom sighed and explained. “I’m in negotiations with Affron Oil. You know, from the commercials?”
“The ones where they’re saving the environment one gas station at a time?”
om snickered. “Yes, them.”
“Well, shouldn’t they be willing to help out?” I asked, acting as if I were that naïve. “I mean, that’s their ad campaign.”
“Right,” Mom said. “And the cigarette companies are paying for cancer studies.”
I acted shocked. “You mean they aren’t?”
I liked hearing Mom laugh. It was kind of rare. She’s a serious lady.
Mom went on explaining, “They are the largest oil distribution company in America. They drill for oil in Alaska and ship it down the American west coast. Despite the billions of dollars in profit the company sees every year, they have never bothered to put any of it toward building better or more efficient ships. Instead, they ship oil in old, run-down, leaky vessels, which end up killing a huge amount of sea life and pollute beaches from Alaska to Baja, California.”
I frowned. “But wasn’t there a law passed about that? I thought you told me...”
“Yes,” Mom interrupted. “You’re right. You remember. That’s good. I helped lobby for that.”
I could actually hear the pride in her voice. Or was it amazement that I remembered something she had done. It made me feel a little guilty. A lot of the time when she talked to me about her work, I tuned her out, not caring at all about what she was saying and kind of wishing she’d stop. Apparently that was noticeable.
I made an effort to pull that information out of the recesses of my brain. “The law had something to do with how the tankers are built, right?”
I could almost hear her smiling. “That’s right, June. In 2001 a law was passed that all oil tankers are to be constructed with a double hull to prevent oil leaks. But that doesn’t have to be completed until 2015.”
“So the problem is…” I wasn’t quite sure I was following.
“Affron hasn’t even started. Not one ship has been retrofitted.”
“Oh, yeah. That’s not good.”
“It’s been tough here. The whole community is fighting against me because they need their husbands to go to work on those tankers. There have been a few threats.”
“Mom, are you going to be okay?” Both of my parents have been threatened before, and sometimes that meant damage to their cars or our yard. Mom was alone up there; would anyone dare to hurt her?
Mom didn’t sound worried, though. “Oh, it’s all just talk. And despite the guff I’ve been getting from these people,” Mom’s voice lightened, sounding almost giddy, “I finally got the executives at Affron to agree to a delay long enough for the inspectors to look at the ships and determine if they are legally fit for shipping oil! Success!” Mom squeaked on that last word. A different sound for her. I bet the Affron executives didn’t hear her do that.
“Oh, that’s cool, Mom. Congratulations.” I knew I didn’t sound overly enthusiastic, but I did mean it. My mom does great work. It’s just that my mom has a lot of these victories, and it’s hard to get too excited about them anymore.
“Thanks, honey,” There was obvious disappointment in her voice, but it was kind of too late to do anything about it. If I got all excited now, it would sound fake or pushed. “So, tell me. How was College Night? Talk to any interesting people?”
I felt my heart start to pound, and my feet and hands went instantly numb as I tried to figure out the best way to let her down. I mumbled, “I got a lot of catalogs. Some look really great.”
“Well, I don’t even know why you went at all. Washington University has the best Environmental Studies program. Your father and I know several of the professors.”
Ugh. Like I hadn’t heard all this already from Dad. Dripping with impatience, I said, “Yes, Mom, Dad made sure I got a catalog from Washington University. It was the first booth we went to.”
“Terrific. When I get back next week, we can look it over together.”
“Yeah, Mom, but I...”
“Did I just hear you tell your mom that you have a catalog from Washington University?” Dad asked, stepping out of the kitchen, shaking coffee grinds and orange peels off the cover of that very same catalog. “Cause look what I found while getting ready to cook dinner.”
Brilliant thinking, June. Why didn’t I wait and throw it away at school or anywhere else?
“Sorry, Dad, I...”
He didn’t listen. He stomped down the hall and picked up the extension in his office. “She threw it away,” he told my mom.
“You what?” Mom asked, her voice hitting a chord that distorted the connection.
Did we have to do this over the phone?
I tried to explain. “I told you I didn’t want to go to Washington. I want to go to San Diego.”
“But their program isn’t as good,” my mom said.
My dad added, “Not to mention the cost of an out-of-state school.”
“If it’s a matter of living at home, we can help pay for a dorm or apartment.”
“It’s not that,” I said, even though I knew going to any school this close to home would drive me crazy, “I don’t want to major in Environmental Studies.”
“Why not?” both parents asked, like they’d never heard me say that before.
“Why should I?” I came back. “I grew up in your house. You’re both experts. Why waste money on a college education about stuff I already know? What good will that do me?”
“It’ll get you a good job,” Mom said.
“Like your mother’s,” Dad pointed out.
My dad always did that—made it seem like my mom’s job was better than his because he didn’t have a college education.
“I was thinking about doing something else, that’s all.”
That’s when my mom said it. Those words that said everything about how much my mom cared about the environment and how little she cared about me. Because if I didn’t want to grow up and be just like her then nothing I wanted to do would be good enough. “You don’t have the slightest idea what you should do with your life!”
And that’s when I said my equally hurtful words. “No, I know what I want. I want to get away from you!”
No one spoke for a moment. I thought about saying something else, but I didn’t want to make the situation worse.
“We’ll discuss this more when I get home,” my mom finally said in those even lawyer tones she had perfected over the years. “Just don’t do anything. Don’t fill out any applications, anything, until I get home. Can you handle that?”
I bit the inside of my cheek. “I think I can manage that.”
Mom went on, “Now if everything goes smoothly with the inspection, I should be home by Monday. If not, it might be another week.”
“That’s fine, Honey,” Dad said. “We’ll talk to you soon.”
My mom hung up without another word. Half a second later, I heard my dad hang up. Finally, I removed the receiver from my own stunned ear and placed it back on the hook.
When my dad came back into the kitchen he had a cocktail in his hand. He sipped what looked like a gin and tonic as he finished pulling vegetables out of the refrigerator. Clearly, he had no intention of talking to me.
“Dad?” I tried. He responded only by throwing an onion onto the counter next to me. “Dad?” I tried again. This time I got some parsley. “Dad, talk to me.”
“I don’t see why,” he said, closing the refrigerator door with his hip. He dropped his load of cabbage and carrots on the counter without spilling his drink. “You don’t care about anything I have to say anyway.”
“That’s not true.”
I really resisted the temptation to roll my eyes or raise my voice. “Honestly, I think it’s the other way around. I think you don’t listen to me. I’m not being an awful daughter just because I have different goals than yours.”
“We raised you to follow in our footsteps,” he said.
“That’s not fair,” I replied. “For seventeen years I have gone to all your protests and rescue missions. I have helped right alongside experts. You know that I can do stuff that some college graduates can’t.
“That’s different,” he said, throwing sliced onions into a hissing pan of butter. “Look, I didn’t get a degree and can do things some college grads can’t, but they still get paid more. They get more validity. Don’t you want that?”
“Of course I want that,” I said. “I’m still going to college, Dad. But not to do what you and Mom do, that’s all.”
His eyes got teary from the onions. I could feel the spicy waves stinging my eyes too. He didn’t say anything, though. Instead he threw the rest of the vegetables into the frying pan. I listened to them hiss in the olive oil as I waited for him to continue the conversation. I watched him cook until the vegetables softened and the green smell permeated the room. As his sole interest focused on browning onions and peppers, it was clear that he didn’t plan on speaking to me anymore for the evening.
I headed upstairs to my bedroom and shut the door behind me. Under my bed I kept a box stocked with snack cakes and candy bars. I ate two Ding Dongs and figured they would be more filling than my dad’s meatless fajitas anyway. My parents would freak out if they knew I ate this junk. They never put a fraction of processed food in their mouths, nor meat, nor sugar unless it came from fruit.
I grabbed my phone and called Haley.
“Hey, turn your TV a little to the right,” I said. I sat on my bed and looked out my window. Now I could see the screen across the fifteen feet that divided our houses and through her bedroom window to the far wall where the TV rested on her dresser. Some kind of reality show like Dumbest Criminals was on. The picture was tiny, but it was better than nothing. “What’s happening?”
Even though we could both see each other and could talk from the windows without phones like we did when we were kids, we preferred to sit on our beds not looking at each other and use the phones as if we were miles apart. It was way more comfortable.
Haley groaned. “It’s pretty boring tonight.” Then she laughed really hard. “Well, that was funny!”
“What happened? I couldn’t see it.”
“I can’t explain it, really,” she said. “Your parents should let you get a TV for your room.”
“Haley, you know they won’t.”
“I know,” she grunted. “Do you know that they haven’t even spoken to my mom since they found out she leaves the TV on all the time so our dog won’t get afraid when everyone’s gone or asleep?”
“It wastes electricity.”
“Yeah? Well, they should see our clawed up kitchen door after the last time the dog freaked out when he was left by himself.”
“Your dog is weird.”
“Your parents are weird,” she said. Then she added a quick “no offense” as if that made it okay.
I bit my lip. It’s kind of one thing to insult my own parents; it always got on my nerves to hear someone else do it. I tried to play it off like it was no big deal. “They’re just hippies at heart. They’re harmless, really.” I popped half the Ding Dong in my mouth.
“I saw you guys at the Washington U booth tonight. You change your mind?”
“No,” I said, choking on the cake. “I just took the brochure to make him happy, but he’s pissed now because I told him I don’t want to go there and be a clone of my mom. He doesn’t get that being a lawyer doesn’t interest me.”
“You can’t help that.”
“They make me feel so guilty, though,” I told her.
“Don’t,” she said back. I watched her pick up the remote and turn the TV off. “It’s your life, not theirs. And it’s not like you want to do something crazy like drop out of school or spend the rest of your life working at the mall. You still want to do great work.”
“I do. I want to do something that’s my own, you know? Find my own cause to get behind, not just ride their coattails.”
“That’s why we’re starting the Recycling Club at school,” she said.
I laughed. “Well, that’s hardly a new cause, but okay.”
Haley came to the window and sat on the sill. I noticed that she had changed out of her school clothes and was wearing her pajamas. Her hair, usually up in a ponytail, was long and wet from a shower. It seemed more brown than blond that way, and I liked it better. Well, except for the frown she had going on under it.
“So I have to tell you this,” she said. I leaned against my wall and thought how it might be easier to open our windows and talk directly at each other. She was kind of whispering, though, like she was telling a secret, and I guess I wouldn’t be able to hear her without the phone. “I read what Regina posted on her wall. She said if anyone else in school wants to come up with a Recycling Club, she’d make sure it passed through the Student Council review, but she was not going to pass yours because you’d probably be running through the school snatching soda cans out of people’s hands and tearing the pep rally posters off the walls while screaming about how much paper was being wasted.”
It took me a second to process what she was saying. “Wait! You’re ‘friends’ with Regina?”
Haley waved her hand like that wasn’t important. “She ‘friends’ everyone because she wants to have the biggest number to show how popular she is. She never actually responds to anyone else’s stuff.”
“I can’t believe you bother to read what she writes,” I said. “She’s an idiot.”
“She’s President of the Student Council, and without her support tomorrow we have no club. I don’t think we’re going to get it. She hates you.” Then her voice weakened as she looked away from me, “Us.”
I wished I didn’t recognize the hitch in her voice. Poor Haley. I remember when she was ten and new in town. Cute, blonde, and bubbly. The kind of girl who could feel comfortable in any crowd and should have been popular. She should have had lots of friends. But she had the bad luck to stand up in class on her first day of school and introduce herself as my new next-door neighbor. Cursed forever by that mistake, she had no choice to be my best friend because if she didn’t hang with me she wouldn’t have anyone to hang with at all.
“I’m sorry, Haley,” I said.
“When we do this presentation tomorrow, can you just try to convince them that you’re not like your parents? That you’re not going to do anything weird or obnoxious? We just want to put out some recycling bins and help people know what can and can’t be recycled. We’re not going to go rioting across campus and hijacking people’s backpacks looking for recyclables.”
My throat knotted up. Did Haley really see my parents like that? After all these years, did she really worry that I would behave like that? I embarrassed her. “Tell you what. I’ll let you take the lead on this. You do most of the talking.”
Haley smiled and nodded enthusiastically. “That sounds great! Oh! And remember to wear your brown and green. We’ll be Earth Sisters!”
“The Student Council might think we’re dorks, but that doesn’t matter.”
“No, it does not,” I agreed. “They’re popular, mean, hateful, and selfish, but they’re not entirely stupid. We—you—can convince them to let us have our club.”
Haley wished me luck with my dad before hanging up and closing her blinds. I half wanted to go on the computer and see if Regina Williams would ‘friend’ me, but then I decided it wasn’t worth it.
Dad never did call me to dinner or to “talk things out.” Instead, he did one of his famous stand-offs, where he wouldn’t speak to me until I apologized and gave in to his wishes. I didn’t, though. I didn’t feel like letting him win this time. I was mad too and could be just as stubborn if I wanted to be. I planned to wake up the following morning and leave for school without so much as a nod to the man.
Mom’s frantic call in the middle of the night changed everything.