Gr 8-10-Sophie Swankowski is a poor girl living in the slums of Chelsea, Massachusetts, with her single, overworked mother. The summer before ninth grade, she and her best friend, Ella, spend their days playing the "passing-out game," hyperventilating until they faint and achieve a seconds-long, dreamlike state. But one day, Sophie's blackout lasts almost an hour. She has a vision of a grimy, foreign mermaid who tells her that she is special-in fact, she is the child the old stories spoke of, the one who will save humanity from sadness. With the help of pigeons and a few good witches, Chelsea must learn how to tap into and control her power. She must also figure out how to shield herself from the evil witch, who just happens to be her grandmother. This tale of magic and self-discovery is set in a gritty, urban underbelly. The language contains a fair amount of cussing, and the scenes depict a hardscrabble, demoralized existence, yet the protagonist comes across as a naive character who, despite growing up in such tough surroundings, readily accepts the phenomena that begin to occur in her life. Unfortunately, readers may not be as accepting, and the meandering plot will not encourage them to continue with the narrative. This one will have difficulty finding an audience.-Heather E. Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, ALα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
It starts when 13-year-old Sophie Swankowski encounters a mermaid in filthy, polluted Chelsea Creek. Before you know it, Sophie discovers that she can communicate with pigeons and that her chain-smoking, city dump–owning grandmother is an evil witch. What next? Only that Sophie herself is a witch manqué who may save the world—if she can first save herself from her grandmother, whose heart is one of absolute darkness. Don’t expect answers at the book’s end, though, since this is volume one in a projected trilogy. The story is burdened by overwritten passages; the author takes an entire page, for example, to describe the taste and scent of a potion, and to convey the feeling that reading tea leaves gives one the sense that he or she is swimming through a sea of glue. (Hopefully volume 2 will be less viscous.) Still, Sophie is an appealing character, the pigeons are endearing (no flying rats, they!), and Grandma is a villainess to reckon with. Grades 9-12. --Michael CartSee all Editorial Reviews
This is not exactly a young readers book, rather one that surely will be attractive to young readers. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Janet Miller
Super enjoyable book with a diverse cast of interesting characters. It's fun to see Michelle Tea working in another genre -- If you read this and like it (and are over 18) I would... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Hanna Lauerman