Monday, September 21, 2015

Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Series: Standalone
Published: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
416 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary YA
Acquired this book: Via Edelweiss in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

{Read my 5-star review of Twenty Boy Summer}
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 Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler is an absolutely gorgeous story. The only other book I’ve read of Ockler’s so far is Twenty Boy Summer, and I couldn’t imagine loving another book of hers more than that, but I did. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids completely enchanted me and stole my heart from beginning to end.    

Elyse d’Abreau’s is defined by two things: the sea, where she was born, and her beautiful singing voice. Her identity is wrapped up tightly in music and the sea. Except that both have betrayed her in a way, leaving her with no voice and scars that are both physical and emotional. She leaves her home and family in Tobago and moves to Atagatis Cove, Oregon. She needs to figure out who she is without her voice, without her music, without her family, and what her future holds now that the future she thought she had has been ripped away from her. 

I adored Elyse. She was smart, strong, and brave. The lessons she learns through the course of the book range from small, quiet things to huge lightbulb realizations. She learns so much about herself, as well as lessons about family, friendship, love, and life. I loved her relationship with Christian and that he was more than he appeared to be. Elyse needed someone like him - someone to see her, listen to her, and really be there for her. Their tentative friendship and then blossoming romance was a joy to watch. There were other stellar characters in the book, too - Elyse’s aunt and cousin, Lemon and Kirby, her new friend Vanessa, and my personal favourite, Christian’s little brother Sebastian. That kid was ridiculously cute, plus so intelligent. I loved his passion and excitement, and how easily he accepted Elyse and never seemed to notice her differences. All the side characters had a purpose in the story and added something special. They each had something to teach Elyse, and they helped her in many ways.

Besides the unique story and the fantastic characters, the writing was beautiful. This story was so full of emotion and made me feel so many things. I laughed and cried. I loved how sex-positive the story was and that Ockler didn’t shy away from portraying a healthy, safe sexual relationship. I also enjoyed the slow unfolding of what happened to Elyse to make her lose her voice. It, along with many other aspects of the book, was heartbreaking. I also loved learning about Trinidad and Tobago and what life was like for Elyse there. It was so vivid and descriptive, I could picture it all perfectly.

On a personal note: My brother is deaf, and while he has some speech, he won’t talk in front of everyone. Growing up with him and being surrounded by other deaf people, I can easily imagine how frustrating, saddening, and even maddening losing her voice must have been for Elyse. To not be able to speak, whether it’s a simple hello, or pouring your heart out, is huge.
When some people realize you can’t speak, they dismiss you, assume you’re stupid, or don't want to be bothered trying to communicate. I’ve seen all of this firsthand. Unless you’ve seen or experienced it, it might be hard to understand, but I think Ockler did a fantastic job of showing Elyse’s situation and the effect it had on her.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a beautiful story about conquering fears and finding your voice. These characters and their story will stick with me for a long time. This book is not only one of my favourite books of 2015, it’s earned a spot on my list of all-time favourites.

Have you read The Summer of Chasing Mermaids? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Let's talk here or on Twitter!


  1. I've heard such good things about this one. I want to read it and I need to check out Ockler's other books.

  2. I adored Twenty Boy Summer, and after you were talking about this one, I made sure it was on the TBR. I'm quite intrigued and hope that I can pick it up within the next year or so!


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