cover image The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

Sarah Ockler. Simon Pulse, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4814-0127-2

In an imaginative but mixed retelling of “The Little Mermaid,” Elyse moves from her idyllic home on the island of Tobago to the stormy Oregon coast after an accident stripped the aspiring singer of her voice, severing her from her twin sister and singing partner. There, she meets handsome ladies’ man Christian and begins working with him to repair his boat for the annual Pirate Regatta. Christian must win the race to stop his father from selling their summer home to developers with plans for commercializing the cove. Ockler’s (#scandal) poetic writing captivates from the outset (“My first breath outside my mother’s body was salt water; the Caribbean Sea lay claim to my soul the moment it took hers”), and Elyse’s backstory—including the mystery of exactly how she lost her voice—is inventive and well-drawn. But while steamy scenes between Elyse and Christian are enticing, some of the other plot lines feel contrived, from the bet over the boat race to a thread about Christian’s younger brother’s desire to march in a mermaid parade reserved for female participants. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ted Malawer, Upstart Crow Literary. (June)