The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

First Lines: This is the part where I die.  Don’t panic; it isn’t unexpected.  The sea is prideful, after all, and Death never goes back on a deal.

This is the first Sarah Ockler book I’ve picked up since I read Twenty Boy Summer years ago (when it was the only book she had published!).  Because I hadn’t liked that one, I was always leery about trying another.  But this one just called to me.  And dude, those first lines?  How could you not want to pick it up?

The youngest of six singing sisters, Elyse’s future had been planned since she was old enough to start singing as a toddler.  And she wanted that future.  But after a boating accident took her voice, Elyse can’t sing anymore.  She can’t even speak.  To get away from the accident, she accepts an invitation to stay with a friend in Atargatis Cove, Oregon, a small sea-side town vastly different from her home of Tobago.  The only person in town who treats Elyse like a person instead of a piece of sea glass is Christian Kane–notorious player.  He challenges Elyse to express herself, and he likes the way she treats his younger brother, Sebastian, who believes Elyse is a mermaid come to life.  When Christian needs a first mate for the town’s Pirate Regatta, Elyse tries to push away her fears and get back on the water.  And through it all, she can’t help being drawn to Christian.  With him, she finds her inner voice.  But even scarier than that, what if she can’t help losing her heart to him?

Y’all…this is a must-read.  So so many things were well done in this book.  It’s so incredibly relatable.

Elyse’s struggle is so real.  She struggles to communicate, and so many people either don’t take the time to figure out what she’s trying to say or they forget she’s even there because she doesn’t speak.  It’s frustrating to read.

The author’s note at the end mentioned how she wrote this because a lot of us feel silenced sometimes.  It may not be to Elyse’s level, but we may have had times as kids where adults silenced us, or any time when our opinions were not heard.  And that comes out so clearly through this book.  As an introvert who usually ends up observing conversations rather than taking part in them, I totally got this.

And Elyse is just interesting.  She comes from the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, which gives her a really cool background.  Her past unfolds throughout the story, so we get to learn about who she was at the same time we learn about who she is now.

Like any good novel, there are multiple layers to this story.  It’s not just about Elyse’s problems, but also about Christian’s, about the town’s, and so much more.  There are so many components that it really does start to feel like real life.

There were some things that needed improvement, but not enough to sway what I felt about this book.  I never really felt like Elyse’s ethnicity and uniqueness stuck.  She’s a Caribbean girl in Oregon; how much different could she be?  But I constantly forgot that she wasn’t the same as everyone else.  She did use some slang in her thoughts, but it wasn’t much.  I simply would have liked to see more.  And the relationship between Christian and Elyse never felt…quite on target…for me.  I just didn’t feel emotion behind it like I was hoping.  They seemed like a good fit for each other, truly, but I just didn’t get much emotion out of it.

But overall, it’s a really incredible story.  Definitely worth picking up.


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