A summery read that doesn’t skim on the issues or the diversity.
Author: Sarah Ockler
Genre: Contemporary | Romance
Release Date: 2 June 2015
Publication: Simon Pulse
Pages: 368 pages
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.
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a diverse read (as seen on its cover). Despite its light, summer reads qualities, it had some substantial issues to tackle without really making them a big deal.
On Goodreads, I saw a string of 5 stars attached to most reviews and I get why this book is widely adored. Below are moments when I felt that this book deserved a higher rating-
1. When Ockler took a tired-out stereotype (the charming playboy) and made it work in a direction she paved out herself.
2. This book is sex positive without making it the main focus.
3. Despite Elyse being mute, her interaction with the other characters was visible in her struggle to get them to understand her. Moments like those made sure that her difficulty in adjusting to her condition was not lost.
4. There are a lot of phrases through which, you can see Elyse learning to wipe off the loss and the grief and trying to understand where she is and how she should proceed.
Anger was easier to hold, to focus on, than grief. Anger was sharp edged and clear. Grief was messy, blurry.
Also, the book has some good advice to shell out if you’re listening.
There’s no weakness in crying, Meredith. Only illumination.
Some days, you win the battle just by showing up.
And some interesting questions to speculate over.
What happened when the one thing you loved, the song of your soul, was taken from you? What pieces of your old life were you left with, and how could you begin to put them back together
Is the Devil Really in the Details?
Despite all those highlights, I had a problem with the details that were spread across. In the beginning of the book, there’s a lot of details, very minute details that don’t seem relevant, to weave through. Reading through that, I felt my interest wavering.
Similarly, there are lots of moments in this book where Elyse is rambling on without any point.
Retelling Or Not?
The book has been emphasised as a Little Mermaid retelling. It certainly is an unusual retelling, without any magic and just a little speculation/ talk about the mermaids.
There was one scene which looked like it was included just to add some of the fairytale’s charm. It didn’t fit at all since it had fantasy elements(just that scene) and didn’t go with the rest of the story at all.
Despite a few hitches, the book had a lot of depth and that set it apart from the rest of the romance novels on this side of YA. Despite some parts that fell flat, I enjoyed Chasing Mermaids and now have the urge to visit the Oregon coast and Trindad and Tobago.
What are your thoughts on this book? How do feel about fairytales being retold in a contemporary romance? Is the magic lost when the magic isn’t really there?