Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Pages: 368
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: June 2, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books by Author: Twenty Boy Summer
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."
Elyse had it all on the beautiful island of Tobago. She and her twin sister both had beautiful voices, enough so that they were on the verge of a successful musical career. That is until an accident forever changed Elyse's world. Her body has healed, but her voice is gone. She will never speak again, let alone sing and this leaves her in a tragic state. She leaves Tobago for the Oregon coast to stay with family friends hoping that the small town will give her a chance to heal.  In Oregon, she encounters Christian Kane who is home from college and after their initial shaky first meeting, she hits it off with him, despite his playboy reputation.  Elyse, being an avid boater, helps him restore his dilapidated boat  in order to get it in tip-top shape for regatta.  This isn't just any race though. Christian's father has made a bet on the outcome of the race and there's more at stake than just some money. As she gets to know Christian better, their unlikely friendship blossoms into something more.  The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a delightful beach read that had a good balance between serious topics (such as Elyse dealing with her disability) and fun summertime shenanigans.

Elyse is a character I immediately felt for in The Summer of Chasing Mermaids. I mean how could you not, especially after all she has been through? Ockler doesn't tell us exactly what happened regarding her accident, at least not right away. Readers sort of have to put the pieces together slowly and I enjoyed getting to know Elyse and her back story.  What I liked most about Elyse was her depth. She has been through a lot and is by no means perfect, but felt very real. I also love that she is learning to cope with a disability; we need more of that in young adult literature.

There are some people that want to destroy everything authentic about Atargatis Cove, where Elyse is living in Oregon. This boat race sort of holds the fate of the Cove and I enjoy that Ockler illustrates how many developers want to come into an old shore town and make it a metropolis or similar to all the other shore towns. This is a very real issue and I like that it was highlighted in The Summer of Chasing Mermaids.

Regarding the romance, I wanted to love Christian Kane, but I wasn't feeling him as much as I had hoped for in The Summer of Chasing Mermaids. I will admit their relationship wasn't my favorite aspect of this story, but I think the romantic situations were handled maturely.

There is no doubt that Ockler is a fantastic author; in fact, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is written beautifully. She incorporates some mermaid lore in it and some allusions to the classic tale of The Little Mermaid, which was a lot of fun.  However, at times the references to the mythical mermaid was a bit too much and the pacing felt a bit off.

I must say that I enjoyed Twenty Boy Summer a bit more than this book; however, if you are looking for a smart beach read, check out The Summer of Chasing Mermaids. It has a lot more depth than the usual young adult summertime read.


  1. I definitely would have liked this book more without the weird mermaid stuff. It was fine for Sebastian to believe in mermaids since he is a little boy but that other stuff kind of didn't fit into the book. I also didn't like Christian as a romantic lead. In the beginning of the book (and for a good majority of it) he is a flirty playboy type and supposedly in an open relationship with Vanessa. Even though misconceptions are cleared up later, he doesn't seem like a good match for Elyse.

  2. The cover for this one is so beautiful and I’m glad you liked it. I haven’t read any of Sarah Ockler’s books (yet) but I definitely can’t wait to. Great review! :D

  3. I've heard similar things from other people about this book. I'm saving it for a summer read. I love the concept. It probably doesn't need all the mermaid stuff to be so blatant. I hope I enjoy it, great review!


  4. Definitely a cute YA book, Christina. Thanks for the review!


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