Release Date - June 2, 2015
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From the bestselling author of Twenty Boy Summer, a talented singer loses her ability to speak after a tragic accident, leading her to a postcard-perfect seaside town to find romance.There are things we feel define us, and make us who we are. Something so vital that we do not feel like ourselves without it. Elyse was defined by her voice. It was her ticket to seeing the world, and what she known for. This story is about floundering when you have lost that which we think defines us, and finding the ability to dream a new dream. Sarah Ockler paints an uplifting tale of finding yourself again in the aftermath of a tragedy in this twist on The Little Mermaid lore.
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 contemporary take, on arguably the most well known mermaid story in the world, is breathtakingly done. Sarah Ockler captures the magic of the story, while keeping every single moment grounded in reality. Everything from it's beach town setting, to the perilous seas ties back into the tale. This is the tale of the little mermaid without any mermaids and it not only works, but it adds an unexpected layer to the story, one of voices and the impact they can have if we use them.
There is so much going on under the surface of this novel. Beliefs and standing up for what you believe in is woven into every single part of this story. Every story line has this theme at it's core. A boy who just wants to march in the mermaid parade instead of being a pirate, another who wants to make his own decisions about his future, and a girl who needs to face her fear of the sea and the truth about her future. Each of them is silenced in some way, and each of them needs to learn to push back. A powerful message that is done with finesse and doesn't come across as heavy handed. Elyse's voice is literally taken away from her in a tragic accident, but this book highlights the other ways voices can be silenced and also shouts about the power that can be harnessed in fighting to be heard.
Fans of unhurried romances will delight in the slowly built relationship between Christian and Elyse. A heroine with no voice provides many delicious moments where Christian has to make the effort to get to know her. It's dizzying, romantic, and feels earned in the end. While attraction may spark the connection, it's the meaningful conversations, the letting down of walls, and the mutual support they offer that makes the romance one of the bright spots of the story. Christian never sees Elyse as broken. He sees her a the independent, complicated women she is. The relationships in the book also offer up plenty of sex positive messages with women being in control of their sexuality and not being judged for consensual sexual relationships, or their desire for sexual gratification. It's a healthy romance built on earned trust, with an even healthier message at it's core.
The story can either happen to the characters, or because of the characters, and I think that the latter scenario works better. This is a story that happens because of the characters. It's a truly character driven story in every sense, and one that is propelled by their actions, and consequences. The minor characters shine just as brightly as Elyse. Sebastian, in particular, will be a favourite of many as he is completely adorable. The women that Elyse surrounds herself with are just as flawed, and nuanced as she is and it made it very easy to follow their journey with them.
A beautifully written and magical story of a girl who learns to find her metaphorical voice. Fans of The Little Mermaid tale will delight in the many nods to the classic story (especially the Disney version) but find a story that is powerful all on it's own. A summer read with filled depth, and insight.