Mermaid Park by Beth Mayall
Pub. Date: May 10th, 2007
Age Level: 14+
Synopsis via Goodreads
Sixteen-year-old Amy rush doesn't expect much from her summer at the Jersey shore, until she stumbles on Mermaid park, an old tourist spot where girls dress in fabulous costumes and put on underwater shows. working at the park changes Amy's life in more ways than she could have imagined. she finds romance, a newfound self-confidence, and discovers breathtaking revelations about long-buried family secrets.
Set against a beautiful and enchanting backdrop, Mermaid Park is a complex and delicately woven combination of both serious situations and joyful ones. Don't let the light-hearted cover fool you. While still having a fun and magical side, Mermaid Park is also a grounded and thought-provoking story, making it a wonderful coming-of-age novel.
Amy was a very dynamic character with a witty and authentic teen voice that I thought Mayall did a lovely job of creating. Instead of her being whiny, I found she was easy to connect with and sympathize for. Amy's family situation at first appeared to be fairly black and white, but as the story went on, other things came into play that blurred that definite line, creating shades of grey. Her step-father, Tom, is a jerk, plain and simple; after marrying Amy's mom, he basically takes over. When Amy refuses to comply and roll-over like a dog to his overbearing and controlling ways, he singles her out for the worst of the verbal abuse. I could tell that at times Amy was trying to make things work with her family but there were also a couple of times when I knew she should have held her tongue. Then again, I still couldn't half blame her for when she did let Tom have it. Amy's mom tends to misunderstand Amy but even she, herself, is misunderstood. Then there is Amy's little sister, Mel, who is a little brat but turns out to have a bit of a dark secret of her own. And Dylan, well I just absolutely adored him and though I wasn't overly crazy about the turn things took between him and Amy, I did find I could somewhat relate to Amy's feelings towards him. I thought Lynne and Stephanie were also good supporting characters.
Mermaid Park was such a charming setting for this story, not to mention creative and refreshing. I often found myself wanting to get lost in the enchantment of the park, to be one of the mermaids swimming so gracefully about, putting on a spectacular show for the wide-eyed audience. Throughout the novel, Amy comes to discover not only more about herself, but more about her family and others as well. I found the entire story to be well plotted and was surprised to find how complex Amy's relationship with her family actually turned out to be. That being said, I would have liked to have seen said relationship more thoroughly explored as I was sometimes confused by some of her mother and sister's opinions of her, feeling I needed more background story. Of course, I did really appreciate that Amy's journey of self-discovery and growth as a character was the focus of Mermaid Park, rather than the romance.
I found Mayall's writing style to be both clever and emotional; the dialogue being spot on. It was very well paced and presented a great usage of imagery. At times, I did feel that the first-person perspective made me a touch too biased. However, I enjoyed Amy's voice to much to sacrifice that just for a less biased view of things.
Towards the end, Mayall reveals a twist that she had slowly been building up to throughout the novel. Despite having seen it coming, I still felt it was a very powerful way to end Mermaid Park. The ending overall, was more on the bittersweet side but I loved the glimpse of hope that it provided.
Mermaid Park is one of those books that just really captured my attention. It was like a breath of fresh air amongst all the 'sameness' of some books. I would highly recommend this book to teen girls and feel that Mermaid Park deserves a bit more attention than it has received thus far. I'm hoping that Mayall will eventually crank out another YA book for my reading pleasure as I found myself absolutely captivated by Mermaid Park and look forward to reading it again in the future.
Site Announcements, Updates, Etc
~Review: The Killing Woods
~Review: The Waiting Sky
~Review: A Certain Slant of Light
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Mermaid Park by Beth Mayall
Posted by ~The Book Pixie at 10/21/2010 06:53:00 AM