The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
To be published Simon Pulse June 2 2015
Genre: Young Adult Magical Realism
Format: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of this book or the content of this review in any way.
The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.
Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.
Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.
When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .
- The strong female friendships. Elyse’s friends, Kirby and Vanessa, are by her side the whole time. They take her out and encourage her to start living in Oregon. Even though Elyse got annoying sometimes with her constant refusals, I liked that the girls were there to support Elyse through anything.
- Sebastian. Christian’s younger brother is so much nicer and helped the story develop. We don’t often see younger kids in YA, so I liked his inclusion. He was really cute and I liked his interactions with Elyse and Christian.
- The mythology and hints of magical realism. I haven’t read too much magical realism yet, but I enjoyed this. There are all types of mermaid folklore, none of which we get a real answer if it is true or not. Elyse also has a mysterious past in Tobago with her sisters and an interesting connection to the sea. I was hoping to spend more time here overall, but I enjoyed the hints we did get.
- The POC main character! Trindad and Tobago is such an interesting place to come from and I liked her origin there. She wasn’t ashamed of her heritage, or of her disability. While she remains mute throughout the whole book, she isn’t shy and still mouths to people. We do see some of her frustrations, which made it even more realistic.
- Even though this was a contemporary romance, it did have some raw moments that were very emotional. This added a nice extra layer.
- Christian. He’s a player at the beginning of the book, and I never got past that enough to trust him. I never liked him, not even by the end. That made it hard for me to like the romance, a major plot point for this book. With every scene, I was expecting Christian to break Elyse’s heart. It was just a bad feeling I had towards him, very untrustworthy. His character development was a popular trope that I’m not feeling anymore, and I wanted someone else to help Elyse.
- The setting. Our story is set in a coastal Oregon town that is being threatened by industrialization. This is a cute story idea, but I think that it’s been really overused now. The town itself didn’t capture me like I wanted it too, plus the stakes of the boat race weren’t high enough (or unpredictable. I pretty much guessed the result). In order to make this work well, I needed some more community feeling from its citizens and some real reasons why they didn’t want this town to leave.
- The influence of Trindad and Tobago. Through reading other reviews, the depictions of Elyse’s home country were not very accurate. While I liked that it was there, I do wish that it was more accurate, especially because this might be the only time some readers encounter this place. I can’t say for certain myself how accurate it was though.
- Some scenes and wording felt very awkward to me. There were certain places with an awkward jump between scenes and something that didn’t fit with the overall story would make an appearance. I also liked where the book was heading toward the end, but sometimes a sentence or some awkward wording would pull me out of the story and the atmosphere. There were a couple of times when it felt like I wasn’t reading the same book.
Overall, I don’t think this book ever decided what it wanted to be – a creepy magical realism, a sweet contemporary romance, a story about diversity and overcoming challenges? It delivered on all fronts, but one more extra mile and it could’ve been an amazing book. I felt very mixed coming out of this, although most people did enjoy it. I liked Atlantia by Ally Condie much more as a mermaid/ocean influenced novel. I did enjoy reading this, but I didn’t fall in love with anything in particular.