The Summer of Chasing Mermaids – Sarah Ockler – Simon Pulse – Published 2 June 2015
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 wasn’t sure where this book was going after reading the prologue, but was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful this story was. Elyse has moved to the coast of Oregon, desperately trying to escape the accident that changed everything in her life – once a singer about to take the world by storm she can no longer even speak. But the words she can’t say are drowning her from the inside.
Beach parties, boat races and summer boys – for Elyse this summer is a strange reflection of what life used to be like for her: popular, confident, the life of the party. This new world, dimmer and colder by far in contrast to Elyse’s home of the Twin Islands Trinidad and Tobago, is the place where she can hide and distance herself from her family and everything that reminds her of what she has lost.
But the summer is heating up, with a boat race that will decide the fate of the small town and those that love it, and the two Kane boys that live next door.
Christian Kane isn’t secretive about his flirtatious ways, and so Elyse doesn’t expect anything from him but heated looks. But when they are thrown together, a sweet friendship (with lots of steamy tension) develops. Teasing, long conversations, scrubbing the boat into shape and a shared determination to win the race unite Christian and Elyse.
There are some absolutely stunning moments in this book – they just reach out from the pages and grab you. The writing is lyrical and descriptive and the story almost magical, with the strong presence of the sea, mermaids, legends, tarot cards and goddesses. You can taste Elyse’s frustration, her pain and anger. There is also a great cast of secondary characters, from Lemon and Kirby, whom Elyse is staying with, to the sleazy town mayor. But Sebastian Kane, Christian’s young brother, takes the cake for cuteness, heart and determination.
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids seems to straddle the line between young adult and new adult – with Christian summering during college and Elyse struggling to plan what’s next for her life, as well as some mature themes. As a side note, I loved the last paragraph of the acknowledgements – it just sums up so perfectly what this story has at its heart: finding your voice.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction
Age guide: 14 and up.
Advisory: Sexual content and references. Mature themes regarding death.
Themes: Romance. Social issues. Emotions and feelings.
Published: 2 June 2015 by Simon Pulse.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 368 pages.
Author’s website: Sarah Ockler.