Review / How to Speak Dolphin

jkt_9780545676052.pdfBook: How to Speak Dolphin (2015)
Author: Ginny Rorby
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Lily loves her half-brother, Adam, but she struggles with dealing with his autism. Her stepfather relies on her too much. Adam loves dolphins, so when Don goes to help a young dolphin with cancer, he brings Lily and Adam along. He instantly sees the bond between Adam and the dolphin, Nori. Lily and her new friend Zoe are concerned for Nori (a wild dolphin) being held in captivity even after her cancer is cured. But Lily worries that Nori is Adam’s only hope…


1) I really enjoyed all the information about dolphins in this book. There are a few short chapters sprinkled throughout the book where we get Nori’s POV. (Nori IS the dolphin.) And then there’s the info uncovered by Lily and Zoe, especially regarding dolphins in captivity. 

2) I was definitely rooting for Lily. She was such a responsible and resourceful girl. Her patience and care for Adam (her autistic half-brother) was wonderful to see. But it was also heartbreaking that she had to act like a mother to Adam (their mom was dead) at such a young age.

3) And then there’s the stepdad Don (Adam’s father). I was intrigued by this character. At times, I hated him for relying on Lily so much. But then, the author would let a little humanity peek through and I felt compassion for him. There’s a particularly touching scene where Lily (*slight Spoiler) calls him “Dad” instead of “Don” (End Spoiler).

4) I loved watching Adam progress over the course of the novel as he gets help for his autism. Suzanne (the nanny) is great and so is the school!

5) I loved when Lily met and connected with Zoe (a blind girl). It was nice to see the friendship that develops, especially over their concern for Nori, the dolphin, in captivity.  And with regard to Nori, I like how the situation is painted as the complex issue it is.


1) Very slight issue here, but Lily has several (too many, in my opinion) moments when she feels bad for pointing out Zoe’s blindness. And Zoe’s reaction is always the same. No big deal. It just felt repetitive and didn’t really go anywhere. Not a major problem.


This book is for the animal lover in your life! Dolphins are amazing creatures. And I love the connection Adam and Nori have in the book.


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

8 thoughts on “Review / How to Speak Dolphin

  1. I like the whole idea of a dolphin being a point of healing and connection for these siblings. Many of the students I work with have autism, so I’m a bit sensitive to how it’s portrayed in fiction.There’s so many stories about how autism is such a burden, usually to a sibling. But this sounds like the burden is more because the step-father is relying on Lily too much rather than the autism.
    I think the dolphin aspect would really appeal to kids.

    Liked by 1 person

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