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 . . .
This book was one of my most anticipated reads of 2015, so I’m excited to take part in the blog tour! I absolutely loved Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer and after finishing The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, I can’t wait to get to the rest of her backlist. Without further ado, here is my review in the form of five reasons to read the book. I’ll also be intermixing some great quotes, because I can’t resist them! (Keep in mind that all quotes are from the ARC copy and may be different in the finished copy of the book.)
“But maybe that’s what life was, a collection of small moments, each one a choice, each as tiny as it was magnificent.”
Five Reasons to Read The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
1. The Gorgeous Setting
I absolutely love beachy settings for books, especially at this time of year. Add in some mermaid elements, and I’m sold. Atargatis Cove was a beautiful setting that I wish I could visit. The locals seemed SO interesting and unique. I could really picture the cove’s little restaurants and shops. It sounds like a place that would be my ideal vacation spot. I can’t put to words how cool the setting was, so take my word for it!
“I want to be here, I thought to the sea. Whatever the past held, whatever the future is to bring, right now, I’m right where I belong.”
2. The Breaking of Gender Roles
A major bookish turn-off for me is when a character perpetuates gender stereotypes and traditional gender roles. I loved that The Summer of Chasing Mermaids turned around these expectations on both sides of the spectrum. It’s not just girls who are stereotyped into certain tasks or behaviors. Christian’s father tried to stop Elyse from being Christian’s first mate during the regatta because, in his mind, girls couldn’t do that. He also tried to stop his son, Sebastian, from participating in the mermaid parade. To him, girls and boys have to follow strict “rules” in order to fit in the neat little male/female boxes that society expects. It was great to see the rest of the town come together for Sebastian and accept his choices. Honestly, this breakdown of traditional gender roles and expectations was probably my favorite part of the book.
“There were so many things about the past I’d been trying to outrun, an anchor I’d carried for months without ever really escaping. There were things about the future that scared the hell out of me too – big impossible things I wasn’t ready to think about.”
3. The Lyrical Prose
If I’m being honest, I struggle a lot with prose. I have a hard time separating what’s a metaphor from what’s real. This is a personal preference for me and I think I’m alone in this! Most people love this writing style. I am extremely impressed by Ockler’s writing in this book. She has such a beautiful, lyrical way of writing that most people will absolutely adore. It really fit the themes of the book; Elyse is a songwriter (and singer, before the accident), so her writing has a lyrical quality that is mirrored in Ockler’s style. With music and writing being such a strong part of this book, it was perfectly written.
“Sorry for all the little ways that the people who were supposed to love us most could hurt us so deeply, despite their shared heritage and blood, as though their knowledge of our pasts gave them unlimited access to all the most tender places, the old wounds that could be so easily reopened with no more than a glance, a comment, a passing reminder of all the ways in which we’d failed to live up to their expectations. Sometimes love was a tonic. Sometimes it was a weapon. And so often it was nearly impossible to tell the difference.“
4. The Diversity
Elyse is from Trinidad and Tobago, twin islands in the West Indies. I don’t have a lot of knowledge of that part of the world, so it was really interesting to learn about her culture. She had a big family that worked with cocoa beans and made chocolate. She told stories of different festivals and celebrations that take place on the islands as well. It was great to hear her perspective and I loved having a main character from outside of the U.S.!
“No matter how much you thought you knew about someone, no matter how much you guessed from their movements and actions and words, you never had access to the inside. Never saw the complete, intricate, messy, shades-of-gray picture.”
5. The Romance
I definitely swooned in this one! It took me a bit to get on board with the romance because I wasn’t sure about Christian’s intentions. Elyse was smart in holding herself back at first, but once she decided to go with it – ohhhh, man. There were some steamy parts of this book that were so beautifully written! There was even a little passage with – for lack of a better word – self-love, that you almost NEVER see in Young Adult books. It was well-done and REAL. Aside from that, Christian and Elyse had such a nice relationship that I was rooting for them the whole time. I wish there were even more swoony moments, but the ones that happened were so perfect.
“Love has its own costs, its own sacrifices, yes. But in its true form, love is borne of neither spell nor bargain.”
I loved Atargatis Cove, especially because it wasn’t the typical beach that I’m used to seeing in books. It seems like every beach in a book is in California, New England, or in Florida, and I was so glad this one wasn’t.
I’m so glad you ending up enjoying the prose. I know how worried you were about that. Believe it or not, my sister came to me last night, and she was like, “WTF is this?” It was confusing her too, but I told her to keep going. I don’t know if she did, but my copy is still missing.
Yeah I agree! I definitely enjoyed the prose from a technical standpoint – super beautifully written. Still not my personal favorite style, but I can definitely appreciate it.
Diversity is definitely something to keep on trying to look for in books, and sometimes I can find it hard to find. Oh, and I love when a book breaks stereotypes, because in real life that is usually not how it goes. I have to give this book some praise just for doing that!
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