The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
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 liked this book, but I didn’t love it. It was a loose, metaphorical retelling of The Little Mermaid. Many of the character names from the Disney movie were used for characters in this book. And there was a love story (although not with a prince). And the main character, Elyse, couldn’t speak. Mermaids were a recurring theme in the story because it takes place in a quaint, coastal town in Oregon where they host a mermaid festival at the end of every summer.
The story centers around two main points: Elyse learning to let go of her past, which includes a mysterious accident that caused her to lose her voice, and Christian’s attempt to restore his sailboat and win the annual regatta to prevent his father from selling their summer home and the adjacent land, where Elyse’s Aunt Lemon lives and runs her art studio/shop.
Elyse offers to help Christian with the boat, and romance ensues. I enjoyed all of the characters, except Elyse. She was whiny and immature. I understand that she had suffered, but I felt like she kept relapsing into self pity every time she made a small step forward.
Christian was adorable – kind of a player with the ladies but super sweet with his little brother, Sebastian. I LOVED Sebastian’s character. He was a 6-year old with a fierce obsession with mermaids. He instantly latched on to Elyse. He was just too cute. He kind of reminded me of my own son, so that probably had a lot to do with it.
Elyse’s cousin Kirby and her friend, Vanessa, along with Aunt Lemon rounded out the cast of characters (well the “good” ones anyway). I enjoyed all the girl power and sisterly/motherly love towards Elyse.
Ockler has created great villains as well. Christian’s father and the town mayor are cast in that roll . Christian’s father for being too hard on both of his sons. The mayor for trying to attract tourists to the town by aligning himself with large land developers and chain restaurateurs who would attempt to ruin the town’s unique feel.
The story was good for the most part. I just couldn’t stomach Elyse, and I was very frustrated that it took so long to learn what had happened in her past. There was a twin-element to this story, which I think Ockler got exactly right. The jealousy Elyse feels towards her twin sister, Natalie, is spot on.
This was my second Ockler novel, and I think maybe she’s just not for me.
“The sign of deep connection wasn’t necessarily outward affection, but silence. The ability to sit still with another, wholly aware of him, neither needing nor desiring anything but his presence, the shape of him, his breath in the air between you.”
My Rating: 3 Stars
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