June 11, 2015

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids - Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids book cover
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thanks) || e-galley
[I received this book for review. This is no way affects my review.]

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...

The more I think about The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, the more I realize how much I loved this story.  When stripped down to its bare bones, this is the story of a guy and a gal, both facing personal issues, who meet one summer and find their lives irrevocably changed. This is the type of story we've all read, yes? What makes this one unique, however, boils down to the unique & diverse characters, the problems they face, the unexpectedly appealing setting of the Oregon seaside and the hints of the fantastical sprinkled all throughout these pages.

Elyse D'Abreau was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, which grants her a unique history that is showcased through countless little details. But she's also like any other teen girl: she deals with hard stuff the best she can, longs to belong somewhere, falls in love and forms friendships, discovers passions and allows herself to be carried on the wave of her feelings. Ockler has successfully written a character that's different from any other I've read, but remains just as easy to relate to, and I certainly think that's something worth celebrating.

Elyse meets several people during her summer in Oregon, and they encourage her to open up her heart and move forward with her life. Enigmatic Christian, who has secret vulnerabilities of his own. Innocent Sebastian, a young boy who believes wholeheartedly that he can find mermaids if he looks hard enough. Generous Lemon, who offers Elyse her own place in her home. Caring Kirby, Lemon's daughter who does her best to open her heart to Elyse. Bubbly Vanessa, who doesn't waver in offering Elyse her friendship from the moment they meet. Just as in real life, these people (among many others who I didn't single out) had significant parts to play in her journey. Ockler goes one step further and doesn't only make them a part of Elyse's life; she ensures that they each get arcs of their own.

But it is mainly Elyse's tale that readers are treated to in The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, in particular the loss of her voice and how it has dramatically sidetracked the plans she had for her life. The grief, the anger, the denial, the fear, the uncertainty - all of these emotions are swimming around in Elyse's mind and heart. I was immediately swept up in her story, hoping against hope that Elyse would find her way by the time we reached the end. Her journey is compelling, so utterly realistic in how painful and jagged, how beautiful and happy, how complex all her feelings and experiences could be. While I've never experienced what Elyse has gone through, it certainly felt like I had; that's how immersive Ockler's writing is.

While there are so many things I loved about The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, it is really the impression it left on my heart that is most remarkable. Elyse might be unable to speak or sing, but she certainly still has a voice - a fact she doesn't fully understand until she allows herself to. The importance of that, of recognizing that each and every one of us has a voice and can use it, is definitely the biggest takeaway this novel has to offer readers. Characters, relationships, setting, theme and just a hint of magic - Sarah Ockler has nailed it all in The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, and there's no doubt in my mind that I'd recommend this one.

What's your favorite reggae song?

When I do get a chance to hear reggae tunes, it almost always makes me think of islands, beaches and chilling out in the sun. Though I'm not a huge reggae fan, I am somewhat familiar with Bob Marley, who is one of the most well-known reggae artists. So, for this week's question, I thought I'd share Is This Love by Bob Marley & The Wailers


  1. I absolutely LOVED this book. I haven't written such a long review in such a long time, and I'm always commenting on reviews for this even though I don't have anything else to say! I said it all in my review, and everyone else loved it, and there's nothing I can do but wholeheartedly agree. <3

  2. I loved this book so much and for all of the reasons you named! I really got into Elyse's story and once I finished I could not stop thinking about it. The story really left a lasting impression<3

  3. Wasn't this book awesome? Sarah took all my favorite parts from her other book and inserted them into Mermaids. I loved it so much.

    Great review friend!

  4. Shelumiel Gueco DSJune 11, 2015 at 12:19 PM

    I've seen so many good stuff about this book but only now did I come across a review that mentions it has a plethora of secondary characters and, naturally, that only makes me all the more excited!

  5. I finished this one last week and really enjoyed it, too! For me, it was the setting that really did it for me and of course, Elyse's voice, even though she can't vocally emote all the time. Beautiful review, Alexa!

  6. lacey @ wildfire booksJune 11, 2015 at 10:24 PM

    Great review! I can't wait to read this book, it sounds amazing and I've been looking forward to it for SO long.

  7. All I am going to say is that you know how to make a girl desperate to read a book. Gah, there has to be more time left in the day!

  8. It was a lovely read, Leah! I hope you get to read it too.

  9. I'm honored! And yes, I wish I had more time to read always. This book is worth the time you'll spend reading it though!

  10. I'm so glad to hear you're excited about The Summer of Chasing Mermaids! It's fabulous, and I hope you enjoy it.

  11. Thank you, Jen! I'm glad you enjoyed this one as well. It's definitely such an interesting contemporary take on The Little Mermaid story.

  12. Thank you, Andi! I've only read one of her other books, but after reading this one, I definitely plan on checking out the rest.

  13. I'm so glad you felt that way, Kristin! I did too. It was such a beautifully written story, and I fell hard for Elyse as a character.

  14. I'm so glad! It's just such a lovely, lovely read.


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