|Coming May 26, 2020|
Annalise Oliver and Renn Lake share a deep, mystical, almost unexplainable bond. It's been that way since she was three years old and first heard the lake say hello. And Renn has always been a source of comfort and calm for Annalise, especially when she's upset or sad.
Annalise's happiest times are working alongside her adoptive parents, whose family has owned and run cabins along Renn Lake, Wisconsin for generations. But this summer, when a small patch of algae quickly becomes a harmful bloom, the lake is closed and the town suffers. And even worse, Annalise can no longer hear Renn.
While the authorities debate and discuss and disagree about what to do, Annalise gets frustrated, and then angry. Her sister Jess is focused only on her desire to become an actor, and her parents are dealing with numerous cancelled reservations. Finally, Annalise decides she can't wait any longer—Renn is dying. After she and her friends—confident babysitter Maya and science nerd Zach—learn about an innovative treatment for harmful algal blooms, they take a risk to save their beloved lake. But this means Annalise must confront her deepest fears and most troubling questions. There are secrets about the night she was left, and Renn Lake was the only witness.
A tear escapes down my cheek, drips off my chin, and blends into the wet sidewalk. I've thought about it before, many times, but without Mrs. Alden in the window, it's like the view is clearer. My eyes are pulled into the store, to the back door, wide open to the garden. I picture a shadow carrying newborn me and then letting go. Putting me down. The shadow takes one step back. Then another. Then disappears.
Jess gently takes my hand. "C'mon, Annalise."
I shake off her hand and run across the street. I have to get to Renn.
At the edge, the water curls over my toes and I sort of melt down, my legs trembling, my whole body unsteady.
Shhh. You're okay.
My quick puffs of breath fade into the glassy blue surface.
It's just wood, brick, glass. It can't hurt you.
The water is warm, more like end-of-summer water. A few specks of green, the color of Jess's nail polish, catch in the sun.
Lap, lap, lap. A soothing rhythm circles around my legs, as if the lake is holding me. My breath starts to slow. The trembling fades.
You're safe. You're always safe here.
I don't actually hear Renn's words. I sense them. Feel them.
I have since I was three.
A story of community, the power of youth activism, and fighting for the things you love, Hello from Renn Lake is also about the strong, indelible connection between humans and nature. Told in two perspectives—Annalise's and Renn Lake's—this heartfelt, sensitive story makes us realize that nature has a voice, and we need to listen to it.
Penguin Random House/Wendy Lamb Books, hardcover, May 26, 2020
"The story is told in both Annalise's and Renn's voices, in alternating chapters, until midway through, when Renn's ill health leads to silence. Eventually Renn's cousin Tru, the river that feeds the lake, takes up where Renn leaves off; the inclusion of both bodies of water as narrators adds fuller dimension to the story and emphasizes the importance of the environment to our lives. An earnest and disarming tale of human and environmental caring."
For more information, check these sites:
Floating Plant Islands
A harmful algal bloom.
A close-up look at lake water with a harmful algal bloom.
A floating plant island, helping to clean up polluted water.