Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids****
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 . . .


Elyse d’Abreau is content to collect sea glass, work in her Aunt Lemon’s gift shop, and haunt an abandoned boat at the dock.   But as the summer crowd begins to arrive at Atargatis Cove, Elyse is slowly pulled out of her shell which in turn forces her to face the demons and fears that brought her there in the first place. 
When Christian Kane finds Elyse hiding on his boat and writing her thoughts all over the walls and ceiling, he seems surprised and amused.  His reaction is a far cry from the arrogant playboy attitude Elyse’s cousin has led her to expect.  Elyse finds him to be even more interesting when she witnesses his reaction to a bet that the mayor publicly makes with Christian’s father.   A bet that pits Christian against his best friend in the annual Pirate Regatta.   A bet that puts the livelihood of many locals at stake.

Elyse is no stranger around sailboats.  Her role and jobs at her family’s resort in Tobago makes her a bit of an expert.  But since losing her voice in an accident at sea, she hasn’t been in the water let alone on a boat.  With a bit of prodding from her Aunt and cousin, Kirby, Elyse agrees to help Christian make his boat seaworthy and be his first mate in the competition.  Despite her fears. 

With the help of Kirby, Christian and their friend Vanessa, Elyse begins to actually live and make connections and a life at Atargatis Cove.   As she begins to come back to life, she is forced to face the loss of her voice which meant the loss of the thing she loved most – singing.  And she slowly learns to forgive her twin sister.  The sister that shares her soul.  The sister that is responsible for Elyse’s loss.

This is a beautiful and complex story.  The way Sarah Ockler weaves Elyse’s journey with the legend of the mermaid, Atargatis is smart and frightening.   Frightening because it made me question Elyse’s connection with reality at times.   Smart because it was the perfect device to show Elyse’s struggle with her loss, insecurities and fears of the sea.

Even though this story is told in first person I felt connected to all the characters.  Christian’s struggle with his father’s expectation and his parent’s relationship was heartbreaking.  Christian’s little brother, Sebastian, stole my heart from the get go.  His determination to be himself and indulge in his obsession with mermaids put a huge smile on my face.  Christian is his little brother’s biggest fan and more than a few characters rallied around both of them as they struggled with their father’s idea of respectability.  Then there is Aunt Lemmon and Kirby.  The way they both silently hold Elyse up and give her the space to heal was absolutely beautiful.  Let’s not forget Christian’s best friend, Noah, who refuses to let the bet that pits them against each other ruin their friendship.  And then my favorite, Vanessa, a friend of both Kirby and Christian, really holds everyone together with her honesty, determination and willingness to fight for what is right.

As always, Sarah Ockler proves to be an amazing writer.  I love how all her stories are so different from each other yet always focus on a heroine that successfully overcome obstacles in a way that makes her an even better person.   If you are looking for a great contemporary teen read, I can’t recommend this one enough.



  1. Such a great review! I really liked the complexities of this story and the way you weaved the plot into your review.

    My Review here