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. – Goodreads
Why I picked it up: This book was recommended to be a friend, and basically all I knew is that it has mermaids and positive friendships.
What I thought: This is the absolute best book I have read this year, and definitely up there in the Top 10 best books I have read ever. Magical atmosphere, likeable characters, cute romance (I was a little worried because straight romances often bore me, but I was anything but bored while reading this), female friendships, and an adorable little brother.
A magical fairytale retelling
Before starting this book, all I knew was that it had mermaids, but it soon turned out that was an understatement – this is a modern retelling of The Little Mermaid, revealed by clues such as Elyse’s loss of voice, and some character names.
I was already hooked by the introduction, the very first few pages. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids has an absolutely magical aura, and it truly reads like you are experiencing a fairytale. The introduction also immediately grabs the reader’s attention with an element of mystery.
Likeable main cast and posivity
This book is proof that I am absolutely willing to ship straight couples if they aren’t lowkey toxic. Though Elyse’s and Christian’s romance has some cliché elements, it is ultimately a positive relationship based on friendship, and the two of them are nothing but supportive towards each other for the entire book.
There is also a big focus on Elyse’s relationship with her two female friends, and her relationship to her twin is also a central element that is constantly lurking in the background. It would have been so easily to have Vanessa and Elyse fight over a boy, but there is no catty jealousy or unnecessary drama between the girls.
Without giving away any spoilers, the book also has sex positive talk, calling out sexism, and (cis characters) changelling gender norms in a beautiful way.
A note on diversity
The main character of this book is a mute woman of colour. This is not an #ownvoices book – the author admits in a note that she is writing about a culture she’s not part of. As a white person, it is not my place to judge whether Elyse is good or accurate representation, but if there were any racist elements, I have not noticed.
There is sadly a complete lack of LGBT characters, but I enjoyed this book so much, and I was so happy to see a positive straight romantic relationship and positive friendships that I am personally willing to give it a pass. (This might or might not be because I, as a useless bi person, fell in love with both members of the main couple anyway…)
My rating: ★★★★★ 💖