Selena finds herself mysteriously drawn to the ocean as her 16th birthday approaches. She wakes up often on the beach, not sure how she got there. Then, she feels certain she spies a mermaid. Her father has forbidden her to learn to surf, due to a freak accident he once had, but Selena sneaks off to surf anyway, and finds way more than she bargained for. Before she knows it, a world full of secrets is opened up to her, and she is faced with the choice of a lifetime.
This story was so lovely and moving. I must say, at first, it moved a little slowly. There seemed to be a bit of a disconnect between this world of boys and surfing, and this mystical pull of the sea and mermaids, but once Selena starts to make her discoveries, I found the story to take a very lyrical turn.
When dealing with the oceanic themes, and merpeople, I thought Madigan did a fantastic job of creating this alternate world, it was so imaginative, and detailed! I much preferred the fantasy sea portion of the book to the more realistic land portions of the book. I think the fantasy aspect of the story was the real strength, and I loved the theme of a young girl torn between two worlds, feeling like she fits into neither. It is a great allegory for kids struggling with identity issues based on race, gender, or sexuality confusion.
It was a bit longer than most of the other young adult books I have read, which may have been why it felt like it moved a little too slowly at first, and may also be why the second half, which is where more of the fantasy aspect came into the story, was more appealing to me. I loved Selena's character, but could have done without the whole teenage angsty romance of Kai to be honest. All in all, a dreamy, romantic book sure to appeal to the young ladies, a nice read for the fall, due out in October.
A review copy of this book was made available courtesy of NetGalley.