Author: Sarah Porter
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: July 4, 2011
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal (Older YA)
SPOILER ALERT: I can't talk about the book without discussing the ending, so stay away if you don't want to find out what happens!
Luce has been living with her uncle ever since her father died in a shipwreck, but her uncle doesn't pay attention to her unless he's in a drunken rage. When one night, on the way back from the bar, he tries to rape her, Luce is so shattered and broken that she feels like she's dying. Instead, she actually turns into a mermaid and joins a tribe of mermaids living in caves in the water. For once, she feels accepted and appreciated, and she loves how her voice is now so powerful and beautiful. But when she learns that the mermaids use their beautiful singing voices to enchant humans on ships and kill them, Luce is torn. She wants to belong, but she doesn't indiscriminately hate humans the way the other formerly-abused mermaids do. Luce struggles to find a good use for her voice, to be able to keep the beauty and discard the horror of being a mermaid
I'm not sure I totally get the book, but I can still appreciate the terrible, terrible beauty of it. The whole conflict that Luce has throughout her time as a mermaid isn't neatly resolved, because, I think, nothing about the topic of abused children could possibly be neatly resolved. I'm not sure why Luce ends up alone, the way she was alone at the beginning of the book. But it's actually not the same thing - at the end of the story, she's not so much alone as she is as one with the world. Even though she's left the tribe and Cat has left her, she has the ocean and the music of it all. That is some bit of a conclusion, though everything is still left pretty much open-ended.
You just can't say about this book that you like it - it's too dark and depressing in some ways. But it's a really excellent book all the same. It's beautifully written, and it's so real and immediate that I found myself crying at a few points throughout the book. It's really moving, and totally heart-wrenching. Luce has a quiet strength that holds up the tone of the book even during the catty scenes with Anais, so that even when the girls are being girls in the way girls are, you still feel the heaviness of the book. I connected with Luce immediately, feeling her pain, excitement, confusion, etc., along with her.
I absolutely recommend this book (though not for younger teens), but be ready to cry over this one.
Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for providing a digital copy for review.