Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
Title: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
Author: Sarah Ockler
Published: 2 June 2015
Format: Hardback, library book
Memorable Quote: “Love didn’t save me; it changed me. Changed me into someone who could save myself.”
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: Elyse is the youngest of six sisters, and she and her twin sister, Natalie, were destined to be famous singers until one night when a horrific boating accident took Elyse’s voice.
Without her voice, Elyse feels lost in her homeland of Tobago, so she travels to Atargatis Cove, Oregon to spend a quiet summer with her friend Kirby. Her quiet summer, however, comes to an abrupt end when local heartbreaker, Christian Kane comes to the Cove with his parents and younger brother Sebastian. Elyse is determined to keep her distance from someone with Christian’s reputation, but the two are drawn together, and he is the only person in the Cove who truly treats her like a person.
Their lives become more intertwined when Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s Pirate Regatta. Elyse must face her fears of the sea, because the stakes are higher than ever this year. Not only that, Elyse must come to terms with her past and look to what the future will bring.
YA contemporary usually isn’t my thing, but The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is that perfect blend of cute, cheesy, and heartfelt, and I really found myself enjoying it. It’s a clever twist on the beloved classic The Little Mermaid,
While I would recommend this book to older teens, I think all readers will really appreciate the characters and themes that are portrayed in this story, making in much deeper than traditional YA contemporary.
Elyse is such a strong character, even in the start of the story when she is at her lowest. She is honest about her feelings, caring towards her friends, and is filled with genuine compassion and heartfelt determination. She suffered a tragedy and faces that reality every day, yet she learns to keep an open-heart and to start taking steps toward her future, even if it is not the one she envisioned for herself. Elyse is also the first to speak up against unjust “traditions” and people. I think she’s a role model for young readers.
Initially, I thought that Christian was going to be a flat character with no desire or effort for growth and development, but I was pleasantly surprised that he was much more than his Cove reputation let on. He cares deeply for his family and friends, supports Elyse, and takes the time to learn what it is he truly wants in his life. His relationship with Elyse progresses at a nice pace throughout the book. Their dialogue, interactions, and difficulties are well-written and handled with care. I also like the sex-positive stance Ockler takes in this novel.
The other characters in the Cove were fleshed out and had many meaningful interactions with Elyse and Christian. I appreciate that they each had their own roles and stories.
Ockler tackles themes such as gender expectations that the characters must challenge despite the “tradition” around them, family, tragedy, self-discovery, and the process of healing. The characters support one another and build each other up. There are heartfelt conflicts that provide each character with new opportunities to grow.
Ockler also did her research as Elyse is a woman of color, and her cultural heritage is of great importance.
Overall, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is the deep, thoughtful, powerful, and heartwarming book we all need this summer.
Check it out and let me know what you think!