Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Review copy from Edelweiss
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 . .
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids proved to me once again that sometimes it's really good to just start with a book that you really don't have that many expectations about. Just plunge in and see what happens. Sarah Ockler has been on my radar for years, but The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, her upcoming release for summer 2015 was my first experience with her novels. All I can say is that it definitely won't be last.
For Elyse, it seems like she has lost everything. Her home island, Tobago, does not feel like home to her anymore. She has distanced herself from her sisters and the rest of her family. And she has lost her voice – literally. For as long as she can remember, she has dreamed about sharing the stage with her twin sister Natalie. She has planned a life outside of Tobago, traveling around the world from stage to stage, entertaining people and doing what she loves. When a freak accident changes everything, Elyse has no idea what to do. She feels like she does not belong anywhere, like in addition to losing her voice, she has lost herself, the essence of her being.
Unable to continue living at Tobago, where everyone knows her as the sad girl who cannot sing anymore, Elyse travels to Atargatis Cove, a small seaside town on the coast of Oregon. She moves in with Lemon, her father's old friend and Lemon's daughter Kirby and finds quiet solitude. While writing down lyrics that no one will ever hear, she runs into Christian Kane, the notorious, charming playboy heartthrob at the Cove for the summer to make girls swoon over him, and her plans for the summer change. When the future of the Cove and the house she's living in become threatened, Elyse offers her expertise in sailing for Christian and she becomes her first mate for the annual Pirate regatta and as they spend more and more time together, Elyse starts to realize that despite the loss of her voice, there still might be something for her worth living for, something that she can love as much as she loved singing.
Despite the fact that Elyse cannot use her voice, she is one of the fiercest contemporary female characters I've read about in a long time. The way she grows as a person during this book, through situations in which she has to trust herself and those around her, through situations in which she has to face her fears and let go of the past, was an immense pleasure to read about. She's strong, funny, caring and able to say so much without using her voice. She recognizes her flaws and works on them and despite her own problems, she is always willing to help those she loves. Throughout this book, I really appreciated her as a human being and a fellow woman, which instantly made this book a positive reading experience for me.
I have noticed recently that I have really started to appreciate books that portray a realistic, trusting friendships between women. Yes, I am all in for romance and swooning, but seriously, is there anything better than a good story about awesome girls who stick out for each other and realize that boys might come and go, but your girls will always be there for you. I loved the way Ockler writes about the friendship between Elyse, Kirby and Vanessa. The encounters between these three girls are funny, honest, realistic and full of love and the way Kirby and Vanessa take Elyse in made me all warm and fuzzy.
The way Ockler writes about Christian just paints me a picture of this beautiful, honest and a fragile young man, who despite his privileged status feels like he does not really know his place in the world. Yes, Christian is extremely charming and a just right amount of cocky, but he's also vulnerable and a bit lost. The way he loves his little brother Sebastian made me cry on several occasions and the way he treats Elyse, not as a fragile voiceless girl, but as a fierce young woman made me appreciate and love him. The way Ockler writes about the family dynamics of the Kane family felt so realistic and honest. Sebastian, a sweet little boy who does not quite fit the “norms” set by the society, a boy who rather dresses us as a mermaid than a pirate, made my heart melt and the way the other characters fight for his right to be whoever he wants to be solidified by admiration and love towards this book.
Ockler writes so beautifully, giving Elyse a lyrical, poetic narrative voice that flows smoothly like the waves hitting the shores of the Cove. Ockler's prose is touching and funny, and the way she writes about these characters and this beautiful place on the coast of Oregon transported me to the beach. And though I am terribly afraid of boats, this book almost made me want to go sailing.
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is the perfect read for the summer. If you only decide to read one book during the whole summer, let it be this one! It's touching, funny, romantic, features an awesome friendship and a realistic, slow burning romance. And in addition to all of that, it discusses important issues related to tolerance and understanding, and finding yourself and your voice from the cacophony of voices, opinions and expectations that surround us.