Study Guide

Turtle in Paradise What's Up With the Ending?

By Jennifer L. Holm

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What's Up With the Ending?

When Turtle finds the pirate's treasure, gets rich, and is all set to move into a perfect home with her mom and new step dad, things can't get any better. We're sure this is the picture-perfect Hollywood ending she's been waiting for, but reluctant to believe in.

Until it isn't.

Things turn from great to awful so quickly in the end once Archie runs off. In fact, we're a little shell-shocked from his sudden departure and find ourselves wanting more at the end of the book. What else happens to Turtle? How does her mom cope with Archie ditching them? Where do Turtle and her mom live and work? Inquiring minds want to know.

But this head-scratcher of an ending is kind of the point. Early on, we're warned that there are no Hollywood endings in real life, and this comes all too true for our leading lady. As much as she wants to believe in an ending where all her dreams come true, it just doesn't happen—and her compromised experience is mirrored in our own experience of the ending as it leaves us hungry for just a little bit more.

Yet, if we look at the final lines of the book, we get some hints that it's all still better than okay for our main girl. Turtle tells us:

And if you're lucky—lucky as an orphan—some of them may even end up being your family. (18.96)

Turtle admits that things haven't gone to plan, but she also has grown a lot and understands that it's not all about the perfect movie ending. Instead, she figures out that her family is more authentic and meaningful to her than some cookie-cutter version from a Shirley Temple film. What's more? She actually enjoys spending time in Key West now with her cousins and grandma, even though she thought it was trashy before. She's come a long way, and so have we, and though she doesn't have the house she's dreamed of, we're thinking Turtle's found a home.

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