The Summer of Chasing Mermaids – Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids – Sarah OcklerTitle: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Publishing Info: June 2, 2015 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 2, 2015
Related Posts: The Selective Collective features The Book of Broken Hearts, The Book of Broken Hearts, #scandal

    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 . . .
  

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I’ve had a two very different experiences with the two Sarah Ockler books I’ve read so far (THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS being a five-star read for me and #SCANDAL being a two-star) so I really wasn’t sure what to expect from THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS but I had of course hoped to call in the higher star-range but I really didn’t let the hype — my own hopes that it would be on the level of TBOBH and the hype that it was an adaptation of The Little Mermaid — get to me too much.

Firstly, let’s talk about The Little Mermaid aspect — THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS is very much an adaption and not a retelling. This is everything I love in adaptations too! There were pieces of the characters, plot, and setting that I was able to identify as parallels in both stories but CHASING MERMAIDS was very much its own story and had its own tale to tell. It made me smile to see a character named Sebastian but who is also nothing like the crab in personality or the concept of the main character having lost her voice but in a very different way. I loved how Sarah Ockler took those ideas in order to sort of bring the feel of The Little Mermaid in but really create an entirely unique story.

Okay, now into the feelings. I don’t know why but for some reason I expected a little more fluff from this book. Maybe that was The Little Mermaid hype in my head, expecting a Disney-ish feel but Sarah Ockler is definitely not one to shy away from the serious and the real and the raw emotion. (Actually, in an idea world, #SCANDAL would have had more serious and CHASING MERMAIDS would have had more fluff but that really stems from my expectations of the two going in.)  I wouldn’t say that this expectation ruined the book for me but it did hinder my enjoyment in just a tiny way. In another way, though, I appreciated the severity and emotion that Sarah Ockler brought to these characters and this world.

Despite that all, I just didn’t find myself making a big connection to the book. I loved the sleepy Oregon beach town on the fringes of being turned into a commercial tourist trap (and it sort of had a Goonies feel as the kids tried to prevent that from happening) and I really enjoyed Christian and everything that his family drama entailed… But for some reason I had a really hard time connecting with Elyse which is a serious problem since the book is entirely from her point of view. I really don’t know why that was but I just couldn’t seem to get on the same page with her and make that emotional connection. She always felt distant to me. It wasn’t that she was an unlikable character but trying to describe why I didn’t connect is kind of ineffable. It just was.

There were a lot of good things about THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS but the few negatives for me sort of took precedence in my mind. Once I was about 75% of the way through, I sort of felt myself just wanting to be done with the book and that’s not a good sign. I wasn’t excited for the ending and I wasn’t disliking the book but I was just read to be done. It was enjoyable and a really fun adaptation but didn’t leave a huge impression on me.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

summer of chasing mermaids gr updates

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Elyse // Character Obsessions: Music, her voice, finding what feels like home.
I really can’t pin my finger on why I didn’t connect with Elyse but I just didn’t. There was nothing “wrong” with her character but this was one of those times where I felt like I just didn’t quite connect. I actually really liked so many things about her but I can’t find the words to say why we didn’t become friends in this book. I actually think it may be the fact that she lost her voice — not her ability to speak, but she lost her voice when her voice was taken from her. She still stood up for herself and made herself known but of course she’s very different from the way she once was and that part of her I only got to see in flashbacks. She struggles to maintain her voice without being able to speak and I feel like keeping those feelings tucked inside prevented me from liking her a little bit.
Christian // Character Obsessions: His brother, saving the town, sailing, girls.
Christian I did like. His feelings felt so genuine — maybe because he was more forth-coming with them? I really loved his relationship with his little brother too. It was so endearing. He’s not perfect but he’s trying to figure out what he really wants out of life. His family life isn’t easy so it’s just so satisfying when he finally stands up to his father!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adaptations. I really, really love adaptations (vs retellings). I really like seeing those little pieces of a story within an original story. This wasn’t retelling the entire tale of The Little Mermaid but it was so much fun to see inspiration and pieces of it in there!
Left Me Wanting More: Fluff. Stupid, I know, but I wanted it to be a bit fluffier. I think that’s just my expectations versus what was actually written on the pages.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I wasn’t crazy about it but it was a really nice story and I was definitely interested! It got a bit slow for me towards the end, but I did still enjoy the book.

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11 thoughts on “The Summer of Chasing Mermaids – Sarah Ockler

  1. Debbi Michiko Florence

    I’m always fascinated by your introspective and thoughtful reactions to reading – you are not judgmental in a harsh or knee-jerk way. I appreciate that. And while most of the time book reviews do not sway me greatly, yours do. I have so little time for reading these days – I need to be picky. Because our tastes run pretty similar when it comes to contemporary YA, I’m going to put this one on the back burner for now. Thanks for sharing, as always! (I just finished reading PS I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han and I remain a true fan of hers!)

    1. Brittany Post author

      Thanks, Debbi!! It was definitely a weird personal issue for me. I don’t really know why I didn’t connect with Elyse but we just never really clicked! The book was still enjoyable but ultimately, I just didn’t love it!

  2. Andi

    I am admittedly a Sarah Ockler fanatic. I have loved everything she has ever written. I will say that Scandal is very different than all her other books, but I loved it for what it was. The thing that I loved about Mermaids so much was that she manged to get the vibe of all of my favorite books of hers in one book. I HIGHLY recommend reading Twenty Boy Summer which is her debut and my FAVORITE Ockler of all time.

    Excellent review.

    1. Brittany Post author

      I THINK I still have that book! I really want to read all of her other books. Maybe I just built up an expectation with TBoBH??

  3. Zoey @ Uncreatively Zoey

    I haven’t read either of the Sarah Ockler books that you have, but I would definitely recommend Bittersweet and Fixing Delilah! Those are the two I’ve read so far and I really enjoyed both of them. I’m sorry to hear that you couldn’t connect with Elyse! I hope I don’t have the same problem because I’m really looking forward to this one. I love both adaptions and retellings and I think this sounds like a really cool spin on The Little Mermaid.

    1. Brittany Post author

      I think I still have both of those and I definitely do want to read them!!! 🙂
      This was still enjoyable but I don’t know why I just couldn’t connect with Elyse! But it was definitely a personal thing. I hope you enjoy when you read it! I loved the hints of The Little Mermaid 😀

  4. Emma @ Miss Print

    I’ve been seeing so much hype around this book but very little actually talk about it. Your review is the first one I’ve seen and although it didn’t 100% work for you, it sounds like it might be a perfect match for me and a perfect first Ockler to check out. Thanks for the review!

  5. Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

    I have an ARC copy of this that I’m hoping to get to during Bout of Books this week, and I’m even more excited now that I know it’s a Little Mermaid adaptation! I haven’t read too many contemporary books influenced by fairytales (fantasy retellings are so much more common) so I think the structure of this book will be really interesting! I actually was anticipating this book being heavier from what I read from the synopsis, and am hoping it can foster some good discussions based on its content. Thanks for the thoughtful review!

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