The story is about Cleo, but not only about Cleo. It is also about Madeline, who has this thing with jumping into the Mississippi and try to swim there. Cleo witnesses Madeline’s first (actually, we find out later that it is her second) attempt to swim the river. Cleo becomes obsessed trying to find out what happened to Madeline, after she finds out that Madeline did not die from her swimming. In her quest to find Madeline, Cleo tours around The French Quarter in New Orleans, and the author has done a nice job descriping the city, the streets and the bars. While Cleo is searching, we also follow the life of Madeline, and via flasbacks we learn about their past and their families. Spelling Mississippi is a good book, but it moves a little slow, and is in some parts rather predictable. There are many cliches in the book, and that becomes a bit annoying, but there are small surprises here and there. All in all a nice, but somewhat average, read.