Title/Author: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Publisher/Date published: Simon Pulse, June 2nd 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository
Goodreads summary: 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...
So there's a reason why people are always like "EEEE! NEW BOOK BY SARAH OCKLER!!" And The Summer of Chasing Mermaids further confirms my opinion that it is a legit reason.
Sarah Ockler has a way of storytelling that just has me sucked into the story and made me feel like I was right there in the moment with all of these characters. She let me experience the pain Elyse was feeling and the disappointment, but also the hope that slowly creeps in. I was right there with her, and I love it when an author manages to put me IN the story instead of just on the sidelines. I loved Elyse for losing her voice and then finding it, and BECAUSE she's so obviously not perfect in her way of dealing with what happened. She's so much a human being that I could imagine walking into the room, grabbing my hand and telling me something with one of her Sharpies.
I loved the lyrical quality of Sarah Ockler's writing, and especially the voice she gives to Elyse. It was beautiful and at times I just wanted to savour the words. But I also needed very much to keep on reading to find out what was going to happen next, because there's a plot that is not just there as backdrop, it's a real, living thing, with vivid characters and a town that I could fall in love with. And even the characters that we never really 'meet', Elyse's family, are very much a real personality in The Summer of Chasing Mermaids.
But so much of my love goes out to the ones we do meet: Kirby, who becomes both a friend and another sister to Elyse and is a very bighearted person that I just want to hug. Christian, who is obviously the love interest and a beautiful one, who has so much love for his brother and turns out to have so much more depth than you would imagine. And Sebastian, Christian's adorable 6 (and a half!) year old brother, who believes in mermaids and doesn't think it's only girls who should get to dress up as them, he is the cutest little boy ever and I just wanted to cuddle him and read him stories forever.
There's a lot at stake with the Pirate Regatta, there's the town's future to think about and some ugly family stuff that made me sad for the people dealing with it. Throughout this summer, Elyse and the others discover a lot about themselves and others and it was truly beautiful to see them experience these things and grow because of it. This little town has a lot of heart.
Just like with The Book of Broken Heart, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is so much more than a cute contemporary read. It deals with loss, the loss of your dreams and a future that was within your grasp. Losing your voice and losing yourself. Losing the thing that you think defines you. But it also tells us about family, the good and the bad. About finding yourself, about accepting people for who they are and fighting for their right to be themselves. About friendship and love and everything. And I fiercely loved every minute of reading about all of these things.
My rating: 5 stars