I've read and really enjoyed almost all of Ockler's previous books so I've been looking forward to finally picking this one up. While I enjoyed the storyline, it didn't feel quite as deep as some of the other books, which was an element I really loved about them.

Hello everyone!

I'm here with another book review, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The story follows Elyse, one of six sisters who, after a horrible boating accident, cannot speak. She once had a promising future as a singer with her twin sister but after the accident, those dreams are crushed and she decides to move from Tobago to Oregon to live with her aunt. Soon, she finds herself helping Christian, one of the small coastal towns local legends, fix up his boat for the coming Pirate Regatta that will decide the fate of the community. As she spends more time with Christian, Elyse gets the chance to work through some of her fears about the open water and realizes that maybe she can find a new dream.

Firstly, I love a good coastal/beachy town setting. I think it's the perfect setting for any good romantic book and I think that Ockler really pulled that aspect of the book off. I could really envision the scenery through the descriptions.

For the most part, I also really enjoyed the characters. There were a few I wasn't a huge fan of but they were mainly the ones we were set up not to like anyways. I definitely did not like the mayor who not only blatantly told Elyse that sailing a boat was too much for girls but also barred Sebastian, Christian's six-year-old brother from walking in the Mermaid Parade because it was only for girls. He got his comeuppance in the end but I don't think I've ever been so enraged by a book character before. He really held nothing back.

There was a lot of great girl-power in this book as well, it wasn't just a beach romance. There are discussions of feminism, as well as instances like the mayor, where people are treated less-than because of their gender. This female empowerment was really refreshing to see, especially in a book that was written a few years ago now - I often find they are less in-tune with the social concerns of today since they are often shifting - but this book has seemed to age well.

I'm not really a huge fan of mermaids (I know, I'm sorry) but I did enjoy the aspects that Ockler included in the story. It was mainly just mythology, but Sebastian seems to believe that he saw a real mermaid and has continued to chase it throughout the summer. There are times when Elyse feels connected to the sea and there is a mermaid 'talking' to her. Ockler never explains what this really is, it could be real or it could be a hallucination on Elyse's part from dire circumstances. Whatever the reason, it adds a whimsical element to the story.

I was a little hesitant having a book with the main character from Tobago when Ockler very clearly says in her acknowledgements that she isn't from and hasn't been to the island. I know from the acknowledgements that she did a lot of research and talked to people who lived there, etc. and did research to try and make things as accurate as possible. I definitely don't know much about Trinidad and Tobago myself, so I can't speak to the validity of Ockler's representation, but it seems that she took the right steps in properly portraying Elyse's culture.

Overall, while I wish there was a bit more in-depth on some of the more serious issues in the book, I did enjoy it and would recommend it for a fun summer read.