Stakeout by Bonnie J. Doerr
Publisher: Leap Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (310 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Jasmine
How could Kenzie have predicted that a surreal encounter with an ancient sea turtle at a New York aquarium would propel her into peril in the Florida Keys?
A haunting promise compels Kenzie to save sea turtles by capturing the criminals who are robbing the nests. Fearless, wheelchair-bound Ana and savvy, troubled Angelo assist Kenzie in an undercover sting that grows increasingly complicated and treacherous. As problems compound, Kenzie fears losing her first romance, her mother's trust, and her own life.
Stakeout includes notes on sea turtle conservation as well as on the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida.
We have found the modern day Scooby gang! Only instead of ghost stories, these teens are solving environmental crimes and changing the world. Or at least they're trying to change the world they live in.
Kenzie is a typical teenage girl who recently moved from New York City to the Florida Keys. She is becoming more independent and is learning how to push her boundaries. She's also dealing with the divorce of her parents, and her father's subsequent remarriage, as well as her mother's new boyfriend. The family issues in this story serve well as a backdrop to the other problems and are handled admirably.
Kenzie also has a crush on Angelo, who's portrayed so well, if I was that age, I probably would too. Her actions and reactions to events and circumstances throughout the story are very realistic for a girl of that age, from resenting mom's new boyfriend to making rash decisions without considering the consequences. Salty, the dog, is her ever present companion and partner in crime. He's the best friend every kid wants.
The secondary character of Ana is completely charming. I absolutely loved the way this girl is portrayed. She's strong and independent and won't allow anyone to do something for her that she can do herself. Ana is confined to a wheelchair, due to having spina bifida, but she doesn't let that stop her from doing anything the other kids do. Having grown up with a grandmother in a wheelchair and a family friend with spina bifida, and knowing firsthand how uncomfortable kids can be around people who are different, it's great to see this sort of thing included in the story.
As the mystery of who's stealing the turtle eggs progresses, we see the characters of the colorful island people emerge. The author does a fantastic job of painting a picture of the Florida Keys and what life there is like. It really made me want to visit the Keys, even though it's not an area I've ever previously had any interest in. I loved that the kids live in a place that makes them care about the environment and makes them want to make the adults care again, too.
The illustrations that are scattered throughout the book, along with the history added at the end about the art, add a lot to the story and serves to pull you deeper into the world of the Keys. It allows the kids to see what the different turtles being discussed look like as well as adding a fun element.
Part two in a series, Stakeout is a standalone read. It's a great story for kids who are interested in environmental issues or who love animals. It's also a great way to bring attention to these issues for others. A perfect summer read for any young teenager, boy or girl, this is a series that will get them hooked and keep them reading.