The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2015
Pages: 399
Song I Played While Reading: Thinking Bout You by Ariana Grande
Rating: 5 stars

Sometimes there are no words...
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, arrogang, 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 com to life. 
When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove's high-stakes Pirates Regata, 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... 

7 years ago, 13-year-old Mariah fell in love with a book called Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. She passed it around to all of her friends, who devoured it and also loved it. It was tender and heartbreaking, speaking of a loss and love that was hard to understand at that age, yet easy to get swept up in. Fast forward to today, and I've finally finished my second Sarah Ockler book and I'm again overcome with how beautiful it was. Ockler is truly a wordsmith; her writing flows eloquently, reaching out and yanking at your heart strings, demanding attention. It was impossible to stop reading because The Summer of Chasing Mermaids put me under a spell, just like Twenty Boy Summer did. (On a side note: Holy shit that was 7 years ago?????)
Elyse could've been my soul-mate. Adrift and wounded, floundering in the loss of her voice and the sea that took it, she was struggling to come to terms with the accident and her new life. She'd had everything set prior: her and her twin sister, Natalie, were quickly on their way to becoming superstars, landing a coveted spot on tour with their favorite singer. She'd had everything going for her, but in one second, the sea had taken it all. I loved how Ockler made the sea it's own person in this story. It was both graceful and rough, beautiful and deadly. Elyse had been drawn to it her whole life, so to be brutally injured by it was shocking and frightening.
Christian had also been drawn to the ocean his entire life, and I think that's really what drew these two together: with the Pirate Regatta, but also through the shared ability to admire something so large and majestic. Their relationship was slow burning and straightforward, with no fussing or games, and I loved it so much.
One of my favorite parts of this story was reading about Elyse back home in Trinidad. The memories were lush and gorgeous, making me almost feel as if I was on the island with her, smelling the cocoa on her fathers cocoa farm, dancing around at all the festivals and singing my heart out. It was otherworldly and beautiful, lending me insight into customs that sent a sharp ache of wanderlust into me. The representation in here was awesome, not only with Elyse, but with how Sebastian wanted to be in the mermaid parade (but couldn't because he wasn't a girl, pshaw), and the sexism Elyse faced with being Christian's first-mate. As expected, Elyse, Christian, and all her friends shoved back at the authoritative figures that tried to push them down, and it was absolutely wonderful. I cried. A LOT.
This is pretty long book, almost exactly 400 pages, so we get a realistic amount of time for Elyse to heal and come to terms with loosing her voice. I've seen some complains that it was almost too long, but I think that's one of the strong suits: fully delving into Elyse's character, getting to know her, and seeing her transition from a scared, quiet girl to a strong and empowered woman.
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is alluring and tender, sexy and poignant. It's a must-read!

"I'm sorry, I mouthed. And I was. Not just for Christian and the way his father treated him. But for me, too. For all of us. Sorry for all the littles ways the people who were supposed to love us most could hurt us so deeply, despite their shared heritage and blood, as though their knowledge of our past gave them unlimited access to all the most tender places, the old wounds that could be so easily reopened with no more than a glance, a comment, a passing reminder of all the ways in which we'd failed to live up to their expectations.
Sometimes love was a tonic. Sometimes it was a weapon. And so often it was nearly impossible to tell the difference."

"As far as I'm concerned," Vanessa said, "any day we get to wear glitter eye shadow and seashell bras is good day. Am I right?"
"It's a good day for me," Christian said. He'd come from behind the dune, carrying a plate of bun-wrapped hot dogs that smelled fresh off the fire. "Wiener delivery. I've come to tempt you gorgeous ladies back to the fire with my extra-long--"
"Check yourself before you wreck yourself, hot stuff."

When one dream burns to ash, you don't crumble beneath it You get on your hands and knees, and you sift through those ashes until you find the very last ember, the very last spark.
Then you breathe.
You breathe.
You fucking breathe.
And you make a new fire.

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