Sophie is aged around ten, though her exact age remains unstated. She is non-verbal and uses a power wheelchair. Sophie’s parents tell her that next term she will join a specialist residential boarding school. Initially Sophie objects strenuously to the plan but in the end is persuaded.
The reader is also introduced to the idea that Sophie feels her most free when she is in water. It is beyond her capability to be the proficient swimmer she dreams of being, but failing that she would most like to become a whale, able to swim and to communicate through songs as opposed to words. When Sophie arrives at the boarding school she is told that she will share a room with a girl named Amber, who is also a wheelchair user, but who is verbal and much stronger than Sophie.
Amber used to be a competitive swimmer, though her swimming career was terminated by a serious injury. Tension arises between Sophie and Amber. It is not certain that they can reconcile well enough to be contented roommates.
The positive points to this novel are the prominent role of a non-verbal protagonist and the reference of the text to the competitiveness that can arise between people with impairments. Any such book deserves commendation. However the culmination of the book lacks any kind of credibility. Amber and Sophie embark on a night-time swimming adventure. Sophie ends up in the water, still seated in her wheelchair. Given the fact that this is a powered wheelchair requiring a battery a good deal heavier than a normal motor car battery, Sophie would stand little chance of surviving such an immersion. Against all likelihood she is saved by Amber. This reviewer’s personal experience proves that it takes four strong men to lift a powered wheelchair inches off the ground. If Amber’s rescue is just a part of Sophie’s fantasy, then the author should have said so.