Mermaid in Chelsea Creek

Michelle Tea, illus. by Jason Polan. McSweeney's, $19.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-938073-36-6
Cult memoirist and adult fiction author Tea (Valencia) makes her YA debut with a gripping, though bleakly imagined fantasy. Sophie Swankowski drifts along in the still and depressing backwater of Chelsea, Mass., numbing her pain by holding her breath by the creek until she passes out, along with her friend Ella. This becomes a dangerous but seductive game. In one such reverie, teetering between death and unconsciousness, Sophie awakens to see a mermaid, "unreal but unmistakable." After Sophie's mother learns of her daughter's habits, she forces Sophie to work for her scary, mean grandmother in the local dump. A mysterious cast of characters leads Sophie on a bizarre and enchanting quest to uncover the truth about her identity. Even through the veil of magical realism, the world of Sophie's adolescence remains ugly, hopeless, and suffocating, a mood that's amplified by Polan's b&w line drawings. Still, readers will be impelled to explore this tangled web of human beings and beasts while awaiting Sophie's redemption, whatever form it may take. Ages 12–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/17/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
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FORMATS
Ebook - 333 pages - 978-1-938073-82-3
Paperback - 344 pages - 978-1-938073-95-3
Open Ebook - 333 pages - 978-1-306-44591-7
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