BOOK REVIEW: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

BOOK REVIEW: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah OcklerThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
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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 . . .



When one dream burns to ash, you don’t crumble beneath it. You get on your hands and knees, and you sift through those ashes until you find the very last ember, the very last spark.
Then you breathe.
You breathe.
You fucking
And you make a new fire.

Oh dear sweet baby Jesus…this was just too good. You know when you start a book and you think, aw shit, this is so weird. Well…if ever a book started out oddly and made me emulate Anna’s french frown, this one was it. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t know a whole lot about boat lingo and the sea and, well, you get the picture. But somewhere along the line *cough* CHRISTIAN *cough* I found it in myself just not to care.


I am a mermaid, goddess of the sea.

Midnight is upon me.
Her lover is near.
Death, come take me home.

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And ya know…I even ended up loving reading about their journey of fixing up the boat. Sure, I didn’t know what they were talking about, but this was just such a small part of the book it didn’t hinder my experience. And, even more than that, it only added to the beautiful prose in which this was written. Now, I’m not going to lie, it won’t be for everyone. I love my books-everyone knows it-so I often read what I know I’ll love. But here’s the thing-My tastes change frequently and I never know what kind of weird books I’m going to pick up and love. Case in point-Yeah, this book had a hot male lead and two tortured main characters, but if you had handed me a story about boats and sailing centered in a town where mermaid folklore is part of everyday life a year ago, I’d have inwardly snarled but smiled oh-so-serenely and said, ‘thanks but no thanks.’
As ever, the ocean laughed behind me. My first great love. My endless torment. How could something I knew so well, something that had been such a part of me, betray me like that? How could such golden, shimmering things so quickly turn black?

What a short sighted fool I was. Because, let me tell you all something-this contemporary, despite it’s odd title and even odder plot (well, I guess it’s not that odd-maybe I’m the odd duck?), had some grit to it. Yeah, yeah, it’s about a tortured boy who’s father doesn’t accept he and his brother as they are-we’ve seen this before, right? I don’t care. Each story has it’s own taste, it’s own flavor, it’s own zest, and I felt, from page one (despite my raised eyebrows and french frown) that this one was different, it’s own special little island of misplaced plot.

Hush, hush, little one, she warned.
Everything you wish for
I will take.
Everything you’ve ever dared to love
is already mine.

I loved how there were little references to ‘The Little Mermaid’. The seashell necklace that Sebastian, Christian’s little brother and an adorable adventurer searching for the existence of real mermaids, claimed held Elyse’s voice, subtle little hints here and there of certain names I won’t mention, and even just the idea that something existed in the sea so far beyond our imagination and comprehension-How can you totally discount that?
“Don’t tell my old man,” Noah said. “I’ll have to deny it, say I’m interrogating her.”
“You won’t get anything out of her,” Christian said, nodding in my direction. “My girl here’s a vault.”
“Your girl?” Noah raised his eyebrows. “When did that-”
“She’s a girl.” Christian swigged his beer, sighed. “She’s my first mate. Simple.”
“But you said-”
“Stow it, Katz.”

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Anyway, maybe it’s just me, but this story felt so much deeper than the blurb boasts. The poetic writing, the vivid explanations, the awesome setting, and an unlikely love that made my heart stop beating at some point (I might have flat-lined, who the hell knows, it was too damn hot) and my stomach erupt into thousands of butterflies. And, what’s so funny, it came out of nowhere. One minute, I’m in love with the book, naturally, and the next I’m in love with the damn thing. Like, I’d let it sleep next to me in bed I loved it so much. Perhaps I’m too easy, perhaps I look to love things from the very beginning, perhaps I just am a lover of love…but whatever the case, I’d like to think that each and every story earns a place in my little heart, and this one took residence deep in my soul.

With Christian, whenever we were together, whether it was working on the boat, breaking for lunch, inside Lemon’s store, or anywhere else our paths crossed, he looked at me. He focused on my lips as I tried to form words, he repeated them to ensure he’d understood. He read the words I’d written for him in my notebook, on his hands, on mine. He noticed me.
He saw me.

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Elyse is, essentially, Ariel. She loses her voice to the sea, and even though it never really says, you can surmise as to what happened. She leaves her home country to stay in this little town, to escape the reality that her dreams are forever crushed and she’ll never sing-let alone speak-again. She stows away on a random boat she assumes is abandoned (she stays at a friend of the family’s home-or is it a distant cousin?? Sorry, that was at the beginning when I wasn’t sure wtf I was reading) and writes out all her thoughts, musings, poetic ramblings and short-comings onto the inside cabin of the boat. And then one night the owner of the boat catches her in there….and it’s no other than my boy, Christian Kane.
“Lucky day, Stowaway. I’m about to bust your fish-‘n’-chips virginity.” And there it was, the smile that I’d come to know so well. Not the real one, not the rare one. But the version that broke through the clouds whenever they threatened to get too thick, too heavy.
Whenever he didn’t want anyone to know he’d been hurt.

Christian!!! Gahd, if you can’t tell, I’m obsessed with him-and his little brother, for that matter!! Christian is, shockingly, tortured. Shhh. I know. It’s awesome, right?? lol And I’m so predictable, fangirling as per usual. Whatever….listen to his story before you judge (Anna, I’m side-eyeing your french frowning ass). So Christian’s dad…he squelches dreams. He pushes what he wants. No matter how much Christian wanted love as a child, he never received it, until finally he just didn’t care anymore…except that he does. And it hurts him that he and Sebastian are looked at so negatively. He loves Sebastian with all his heart, so he tries to encourage his dreams whereas his own were crushed. He races every year with his friend, Noah, in sailing. But this year, times are rough in their town and the mayor has proposed selling all the properties and adding condos to bring in revenue. This, naturally, crushes the town, but there’s a bet at stake (and without Christian or Noah’s consent). Christian’s father and the mayor have wagered that, if Christian wins, the town doesn’t sell and he gets Noah’s pride and joy-the boat. But if Noah wins, things go according to plan, crushing the town. So, once partners, they are now forced to race against one another for totally different things…and Christian’s father thinks he has no chance. Enter Elyse.

This is where fixing up the boat comes in. He and Elyse decide to rebuild the boat together even though she hasn’t been in the sea since her accident. She wants to help the town and the handsome, mysterious, heart-crushing, tattooed Stanford boy who will never be good enough for his father. She wants to win. She wants to prove everyone wrong who says a girl can’t sail during the race, and, after time, she suddenly realizes…she wants Christian.

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Sometimes love was a tonic. Sometimes it was a weapon. And so often it was nearly impossible to tell the difference.

The romance was slow burn, only the best kind. But their relationship is deep, so much more than that. They are friends. They find solace and peace in one another. They speak (or write, in Elyse’s case) about things they can’t with anyone else. And, more than that, they end up finding themselves when they least expect it.
Just looking at him, a careful observer could see that he was there but not there, his thoughts in many places at once. Adrift, as I noticed earlier. But when he was with you, he was with you. In a shared moment, for however long it lasted-an instant, a minute, ten-he was the kind of guy who offered his undivided focus, no matter how many other girls might be in the room, no matter who he planned on taking home that night.
Clever? Yes. Cocky? Sure. But dismissive? Not part of his repertoire.

I don’t know if my ramblings helped, hindered, or completely changed your mind. Frankly? I don’t care. I never have time for long reviews anymore, so this fangirl review was for me. I loved this book so deeply with all my heart, and I hope that, in some way, I’ve convinced even one person to give it a try. But if not? At least I can find strength in the fact that I got to write a fun, happy review, and not some meh or whatever one. I love loving books, and I only hope my winning streak continues. I think many will find lots to love about this one, but it just needs to be given a chance. ♥

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1 Comment

  1. Melanie B

    Sounds like a fun read! Thanks for the review

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