Title: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
Author: Sarah Ockler
Published by: Simon Pulse
Publication date: June 2, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling
Summary from Goodreads:
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 . . .
I picked up Chasing Mermaids because it seemed like a fun, summer read loosely based on The Little Mermaid, and I was intrigued by the premise about a girl coping with the monumental lose of loosing her voice. It’s also exciting to read a book with diverse characters. Elyse is from Tobago, a small island in the Caribbean. Sarah Ockler writes wonderfully, and I was at ease reading through the prose. The thing I like most about Chasing Mermaids is the topic of figuring out life when all your expectations and opportunities are removed. Elyse has no choice but to move on, because her dream depended on having an auditory voice. She has to face her fears, learn to depend on others, and discover who she is when all her hopes and dreams are washed away. She’s going through all the stages of grief.
Despite the things I like about this book, like the faithful girl friendships and some strong family ties. Chasing Mermaids left me feeling MEH in the end. Here’s why:
Christian is a playboy and I’m so tired of this character. Why authors regularly default to this kind of love interest is confusing to me. Is it the fantasy of taming the boy? I don’t know. I also don’t like that there never seems to be any consequences for these playboys and the womanizing life they’ve been living. They get to sleep around with lots of girls and still get the girl in the end, but there’s never any thought about dealing with the guys past in the new relationship. If you think there wouldn’t be conflict in a relationship with a history like that, you’re delusional.
The mysticism, magical references were confusing and didn’t add to the story for me. (Minor spoilers, so skip to next paragraph if you’re not interested) I understand the need for Elyse to face this magical presence in the end, but I didn’t like that facing Atargatis was the means to Elyse’s recovery. Maybe it was supposed to be metaphor, but I thought she could’ve accomplished healing outside of Atargatis.
Would I let my teen read this book?
I don’t think this should be Young Adult. The characters are adults (18-20), and the sexual content is more graphic than what I think kids who can pick up books in the YA section should be exposed to (as young as 12…advanced readers age 8-9 in some cases). I’ve recommended 17 and up for this book. Ideally, this could be a good book to read with your teen, since there are many good discussion topics.
Age recommendation: 17
Language – moderate; 4-5 F-bombs
Drugs & Alcohol— Underage drinking at parties
Sex – The sex scenes were a little graphic, with some details. Elyse masturbates in her room at night; two sex scenes
Violence – none
My Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Buy The Summer of Chasing Mermaids on Amazon.com
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.