Rummanah Aasi
  When I think of mermaids there is usually a few things that immediately come to mind: Han Christian Anderson's tale The Little Mermaid, Disney's adaptation of that same tale, and for some odd reason the 1984 movie Splash starring Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks. Most of these pieces focused on the romance between the mermaid and the mortal, but in L.K. Madigan's second novel The Mermaid's Mirror, she goes beyond these boundaries and digs deeper.

Description: Lena has lived by the Pacific Ocean her whole life and always felt drawn to the ocean. She loves to swim and dreams to surf the waves like her best friends; however, her father forbids her after a near fatal surfing accident. When Lena turns sixteen strange things begin to happen to her. She finds herself sleepwalking to the beach and searching for things that she feels is missing but doesn't know what it is. On an early morning birthday walk, Lena sees a woman with a "glistening silver tail" out in a dangerous ocean cove. She doesn't know for sure if it's a woman she saw or an ocean animal. The only way to find out what she really saw, Lena has to learn to surf and get close to verify her theory. Slowly Lena begins to discover a world under the ocean and unlocks the mysteries from her family's past. 

Review: I really enjoyed L.K. Madigan's debut novel, Flash Burnout, last year and was a bit surprised that she chose to go in the fantasy direction instead of another realistic fiction for her second book. Regardless of the genre, I looked forward to reading more from this author. Like Flash Burnout, the main focus of The Mermaid's Mirror is not just the teen protagonists but rather the entire family unit. In many young adult novels, the family (particularly the parents) are completely clueless of the ongoings in their son/daughter's life or they have such a minor role that doesn't leave any impression on the reader. Madigan has a gift in making the reader care for not only the family but other secondary characters as well. Lena's parents care for her truly and deeply. Their love shows not just through dialogue, but their body language and expressions. It is so refreshing to read about a step-mother and step-brother who do not fall in the stigma of being cold and callus.
   Although The Mermaid's Mirror has a paranormal element and a light romance, the heart of the book is Lena's inability to feel at home or belong. She is caught between two worlds and needs to decide where she fits. I identified Lena's struggle mostly because I, too, find myself born to two very separate cultures. My family is from Pakistan but I was born in America. I don't necessarily feel I'm completely Pakistani nor am I completely American either. I fall in the gray in between area. Once Lena begins to learn about her family's past and her connection to the ocean (which I found out quicker than Lena), she explores both worlds and finds what is most important to her.
  As I mentioned earlier, I loved all of the characters that Madigan created especially Cole, Lena's adorable six year old brother who lights up the page and makes me smile every time her appears, and Kai, Lena's boyfriend, who is incredibly sweet and funny. Speaking of Kai, I'm glad that Lena and Kai had a realistic relationship. One that is not all consuming, but familiar. Lena explains this further when she talks to her best friend Pem.
  The details of the mer- world were fascinating. The book nicely splits its attention on land and in the ocean equally. I felt that there was enough information about both settings that allowed Lena to make her choice. The Mermaid Mirror doesn't necessarily have a happy ending, but it has an ending that is quite realistic for a fantasy novel and I couldn't really see how it could have ended any other way. Another winner from Madigan and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.
  
Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: Some really mild language. Perfect for ages 12 and up.

If you like this book try: Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
6 Responses
  1. Annette Says:

    I agree with you. I just posted my review for this book today! http://annettesbookspot.blogspot.com/2010/11/mermaids-mirror-dont-worry-about.html


  2. danya Says:

    I haven't read anything by this author yet but I have seen several positive reviews of The Mermaid's Mirror, so I'm thinking I should give it a shot! Glad to hear that the family is a focus rather than the romance (as is so typical in YAs these days) and Lena's identity struggle sounds like it resonates. Thanks for the review!


  3. Alison Says:

    Fab review! Second good review I've read of this today. It's definitely nice to read books where the family has a prominent and positive role in the book.


  4. @Annette: Just looked at your review, I agree with your points.

    @Danya: You're welcome! It's a quick and great read.

    @Alison: Thank you! I guess the book is making its rounds. :)


  5. Excellent review! I enjoyed this one too. The ending was not happy, but it was just right for the book.


  6. @Kelli: Thanks! I kinda liked that there was a bittersweet ending. It was consistent with the tone of the book.


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