SOMETIMES, THERE ARE NO WORDS…
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…
4.5 stars — Well I must say, I am spoiled for reading ebooks people. Reading this hardback was HELLA HARD. For the usual reasons — can’t eat and read, can’t read in the dark, hard to hold open. BUT I was surprised with how much I’ve gotten used to highlighting my Kindle books. Like, I refuse to mark up a physical copy, but there were so many beautiful quotes in this book that I was just itching to highlight. It ended up being my number one drawback, b/c Ms. Ockler just says things in a way that really got to me sometimes, you know??
There were occasional moments in this story where I got a bit confused in the language and style, but it was extremely rare. When I read the prologue, I was uncertain if it would be a match for me. But once I got past it to the first chapter, I was basically sucked in for the rest of the book. I did find that the book slowed a bit at the end and I found myself wanting to skip ahead…the pacing just didn’t work for me. These are all reasons I’ll be rounding down, but honestly they were about the only detriment of this book for me. Otherwise it just hit so many of my buttons.
Even though our characters are right on the upper limit of YA (I’d call it mature YA, particularly for some content), I really felt like this was a coming of age story of sorts. And not just for our narrator, Elyse, but for Christian in the background as well. But Elyse does go through a transformation in our story…a journey to finding her new self. It was slower than I expected, but in some ways that made it more realistic and I was fully invested.
I truly did love both Elyse and Christian. I felt like they had many layers, and I loved the way their romance developed. But in a lot of ways that was a very secondary plot line. The main focus is on Elyse finding her voice, and in the goings on of Artigatis Cove (the bet, the town development, the regatta, the mermaid parade, etc). And what made this story TRULY shine for me was the diverse cast of secondary characters…they were just all so different. While the whole story is from Elyse’s POV, I really felt like this was a bit of an ensemble book. It wasn’t just about her developing relationship with Christian, but about her relationships with everyone she meets that summer. From her observations of the adults, to her “aunt” Lemon (who was just perfection in a kooky way), to Kirby and Vanessa and the friendships she forms there.
BUT, the absolute standout relationships were with Christian and his little brother Sebastian. Those moments stole the whole book for me. And I’d like to say it was Sebastian that stole it, but it was the trio together: Sebastian, Christian AND Elyse. I LOVED the way they interacted. I loved the way Christian loved his brother. I LOVED how adorable and incorrigible and perfectly six years old Sebastian was. I loved what he taught Elyse. I just loved EVERYTHING about every moment that involved these 3 together.
I loved all the little storylines that helped to further the story about losing one’s “voice” and the different ways that can happen. It was really effective, without being obvious or preachy.
I LOVED the little nods to both the original fairytale as well as the Disney version (mostly in character names or boat names).
And I LOVED feeling like I got a glimpse of Trinbagonian life. I loved the little bits of slang I learned. I desperately want to visit the twin islands now. And maybe learn how to wine. I loved the diversity that Elyse represented, and I felt like it was done authentically. It was a perfect fit for my diverse retelling challenge this month.
So yeah…I’m glad I made the exception from my strictly ebook reading diet to throw this one in the mix…it was so worth it, and I will definitely be watching out for more books by Ms. Ockler in the future.