blueiguana

Just published Blue Iguana

Posted on November 23, 2013

Wendy Townsend

That night I do a pretty good job of sketching Billy’s face. He is like a dinosaur, alive here and now, so animated and yet so other. His eyes seem to ask, Who are you? I remember Joe when he was two and I was eleven. I toted him around on my hip. I loved the feel of his arms and legs clinging to me, and I loved feeling like I was protecting him. I’d imagine holding on tight and fighting off a wild dog.

By her junior year of high school, Clarice knows that her sensitivity to animals makes her different from other kids—and not necessarily in a good way. She hasn’t gotten her driver’s license because she worries about hitting frogs and turtles in the road. She causes a scene in biology class when the teacher is about to cut open a living frog. Even little kids can draw her wrath: she reacts swiftly and angrily when a playmate of her autistic brother, Joe, casually tears Joe’s pet millipede in two.

Then her school counselor suggests that Clarice do volunteer work for wildlife conservation over the summer. Online, she discovers BIRP, the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, and a few weeks later she is on her way to Grand Cayman Island to join fi eld biologists and volunteers at an iguana preserve. When catastrophe strikes, Clarice is forced to come to terms with cruelty beyond her worst imaginings—and fi nds a place for herself in the effort to protect an extraordinary, and extraordinarily vulnerable, species.