The title is misleading. No, this book is not about terrapin, but it is about paradise-the Florida Keys. The main character is a little girl named Turtle. During the Depression jobs are hard to find, but Turtle's mother gets another house cleaning job. This time the lady hates children, so Turtle is sent to live in a place she knows nothing about with people she has never met. To appreciate this book, the reader needs a picture of Hemingway's Key West. By 1934, Key West was bankrupt and declared a welfare state by the governor. Paying jobs were hard to find. Cigar and sponging industries had moved. The Navy and Coast Guard had left. Henry Flagler's railroad was bankrupt and Mallory Steamship lines no longer stopped. Key West, once Florida's most affluent city, was 5 million dollars in debt. The city could not pay police, firemen, garbage collectors. Most residents were on welfare. The streets were littered and filthy. Homes were run down and industry gone.
This is the Key West Turtle comes to. The reader will think they are reading an island version of Huckleberry Finn as they enjoy Turtle's enterprising, free-footing, cousins, neighbors, and colorful characters of Depression era Key West. By the end of the book, Turtle really does find paradise. You'll enjoy this touching, well written read with historical notes at the end. Written by Jennifer Holm.