By now, you all should know how much I love YA contemporary. Yet, so many things can happen in that genre, that’s it’s kind of hard to pin a book that’s quite perfect. Well, I can’t believe I found it. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is the perfect contemporary, if you ask me. It’s the kind of book I fell in love with, and won’t forget for a while.
A SMALL SEASIDE TOWN…
“The girl who’d written volumes on the walls but never said a word.”
After a boating accident, Elyse d’Abreau loses her voice, and with it, her biggest dream: singing. Leaving her family and the only home she ever had in Tobago, she seeks solitude in Atargatis Cove, Oregon, for the summer, in hope of trying to catch the pieces of herself that fell into the ocean along with her vocal cords. What seems like a sweet, almost boring, average contemporary story, holds many, many secrets. First of all, this is a loose retelling of The Little Mermaid, as you could have guessed from the title. Yet it takes some liberties, and, being not too familiar with the original legends, I was glad it did. Mermaids and legends were hovering around the city, the characters, and around the whole story. It was like a fantasy about to come to live, except well, it didn’t. And it was perfectly okay, it was just, perfect. Second of all, we get the atmosphere of the small seaside city, the usual spots to go, the walks on the beach, the particular spots of the city…it’s almost as if we can smell the salty sea licking at our feet as we read. It feels like a holiday, it almost feels like a little home.
REAL, STRONG, DIVERSE CHARACTERS
“When one dream burns to ash, you don’t crumble beneath it. You get on your hands and knees, and you sift through those ashes until you find the very last ember, the very last spark. Then you breathe. You breathe. You fucking breathe. And you make a new fire.”
Books where I happen to love all of the characters are very, very rare. Books where all the characters feel three-dimensional, feel real, move and make me laugh and cry, are, well, almost sure to be 5-stars-rated. So, this happened. I met Elyse, an amazing main character. She’s a person of color, which was so good to read, and, most of it all, she’s from Tobago. Her whole Caribbean culture wasn’t left out, at all, on the contrary: it took a big place in the story, from mentions to her family, her family business, and everything, it was like having a REAL peek at someone’s life. We didn’t just grasp the idea of who Elyse is, we completely could feel her becoming a real person as we read along. She can’t speak, so, you might think: okay, so this is a book without dialog? Yes, that’d be poor thinking, I’ll admit it. As we get along, we can see how she manages to communicate, via notepads, or simply, her lips. It’s hard, but it’s how she does it. Elyse is a strong main character, but not in the Katniss Everdeen sense, meaning that she’s a crazy bow-shooter and will save the dystopian world of Atargatis Cove from an awful fate. Something along these lines DOES happen (not exactly, no worries) but I admire that Elyse is strong in such a realistic way, we can completely relate. Despite her disability, she manages to communicate, try and make her voice be heard, she overcomes many obstacles, and, despite fear, irrational thinking or anything, she finds support in the people that surround her, and manages to come at the last page of this book being a fantastic main character you’ll surely remember.
SECONDARY CHARACTERS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
“This boy wore the ocean in his eyes, green-gray-blue, ever shifting, and I recognized him immediately. Knew before he said another word that he was as dangerous as he was beautiful.”
She may be stealing the spotlight –because, hm, main character, but this book gives a great place for secondary characters, too. We get to know a little bit of everyone, from Lemon, her aunt/protector/sweet-and-kind-of-weird-into-tarot-cards-and-herbal-stuff (loved her!), to Kirby, her cousin who knows when to kick her in the ass, Sebastian, Christian’s adorable little brother you’ll fall in love with, well, right after… Christian, obviously. At first, he seems to be this annoying womanizer, but that’s not the case, at all. Kind, caring, sweet, he’s everything you’ll want your next book crush to be. His relationship with Elyse is close to perfection, it’s adorable and I can guarantee it’ll make you smile so big. It’s built slowly, with no rush, and no insta-love of any kind, this book depicts with a great realism teenagers’ love, and, ALL THE FEELS..
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is written in such a gorgeous prose, you’ll want to underline all of the sentences. It was my first Sarah Ockler book, and it definitely makes me want to read MORE. Despite the main façade of the book, almost screaming: I’m swoony, this book is nothing like that. Like I said before, it holds many, many secrets. It’s the story of a girl, wanting to raise her voice, even when she’s deprived of it. It’s about a small town, who’s fighting against basically, losing its soul for money. It’s about answering the question, once your dreams are shattered, your life is turned upside down, or just casually asking, because you need to, “what do you want to do now?” It’s a story about finding yourself, or re-finding yourself. Most of it all, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids depicts important issues such as sexism and social stigmas. See, it’s not just an adorable package. It’s the whole deal of perfection.
Final rating: It’s a hurricane!
Did you read The Summer Of Chasing Mermaids? DID YOU FELL IN LOVE AS WELL? Did you have SO MANY FEELS? Or was it just “meh”, to you? Do you want to read it? Share your thoughts in comments!
Sarah Ockler,The Summer of Chasing Mermaids Published by Simon Pulse, June 2nd 2015 (First published June 1st 2015).
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 . . .