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The Mermaids of Lake Michigan Kindle Edition
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|Length: 148 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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It was Mrs. Churchill. She was the only person I’d ever seen with a parasol. She held it in one hand. With the other, she was hanging onto the fingers of a girl about my age with hair the color of orange Kool-Aid. I wanted to take a pen and connect the freckles on her face into funny constellations.
We’d already had our talk about the birds and the bees. At that time what she’d said had so repulsed me I’d vowed to stay a virgin forever.
Most kids had decorated the inside door of their lockers with magazine pictures of teen idols or big bold words cut from advertisements: Fresh! Just do it! Sexy. The only picture in Matt’s locker was a sepia-toned postcard of Einstein on a bicycle.
I’d had a taste of adventure and I knew I wanted more… In the meantime, I was under house arrest.
I was terrified of telling my parents… the biggest scandal in the family since my great-grandmother, the flame-haired Margaret Stieg, in her fur coat and pearls, had hopped onto a train with her (alleged) bootlegger boyfriend, and disappeared out west, where there was hardly any water. Would my name be banned from conversation one day too?
I vacillated and wavered in how to rate this amusing and insightful coming of age tale. I adored the vast majority of this keenly observant and emotive first person narrative and while reviewing my notes and favorite quotes – I and found myself smiling. So shrugging – I have to give this tale a full five-star rating for the quality of the writing alone. Ms. Kamata has produced an outstandingly accurate depiction of the time period and fully captured the thought processes, outlook, and constricted life experiences of a young girl living in a small town during the 1970s. I know this as fact and entirely all too well, as it felt like she was pulling snippets from that dusty file cabinet tucked away in the corner of my brain that is untidily packed with childhood memories. In reading Ms. Kamata’s engaging words, vivid memories and feelings that I had not summoned for ions began to surface and wash over me. Like Elise, I also came of age in a small town during the 70’s, with one sister and extremely religious and uptight white conservative parents. Although I must confess, Elise’s family was actually much nicer than mine ever tried to be.
For much of the story I could have been Elise, so it quickly became personal and very real to me. I definitely recall thinking and feeling in a similar manner as detailed in her entertaining observations; the embarrassing mistakes and sense of confusion that occurred from the literal mindset of youth, as well as feeling painfully constrained by the rigid expectations of over-controlling parents as well as being totally lacking in useful life experience due to a complete dearth of choice, options, or exposure. I also recall the sense of being listless and bored stiff by the bland and colorless routine of a tightly religious and narrow-minded small-town community so that anything new or different had an immediate taint of the taboo so of course to me it was instantly thrilling, highly exciting, alluring, and exotic; which and also led to new and refreshing flights of fancy and hopeful daydreams all featuring me in the starring role. Ms. Kamata’s craftily written tale adroitly detailed and portrayed that era and phase of life in a remarkably deft manner.
I love reading novels that include mermaids in the narrative. Most recently I fell in love with Lydia Millet’s, MERMAIDS IN PARADISE and Elizabeth Stuckey-French’s, MERMAIDS ON THE MOON is funny story about some aging Weeki Wachee Mermaids.
THE MERMAIDS of LAKE MICHIGAN(Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing) by Suzanne Kamata is more of a fairytale about growing up and trying to feel comfortable in the world. It tells the story of seventeen year-old, Elise Faulkner, a shy girl in Grand Haven, Michigan with an ex-beauty queen mother with a bigger than life personality. Elise’s mom wants to turn her into a mini-mom, complete with a loud mouth and pushy persona. Mom doesn’t seem to respect Elise’s desire to stay at home, read and write letters to her pen pals all over the world.
One of Elise’s pen pals, Fabrice Nwanko, a schoolgirl from Ghana shares a scandalous story of her uncle’s encounter with a mermaid. Elise has grown up hearing the story about how her great-grandmother was saved by a mermaid when her oxygen was cut off while diving. Her life changes when a mysterious young girl moves in next door. Chiara Hanover has traveled the world, smokes cigarettes and Elise is instantly attracted to her. They discover they both love vintage fashion and soon they are BFFs missing classes for adventures at the beach.
THE MERMAIDS of LAKE MICHIGAN is one of those novels where readers have to suspend reality and venture into the realm of magical realism to really enjoy the story. Kamata presents the magical story of a young woman growing up and finding her very unique place in a big world.
"It occurred to me that sometimes people need stories to help themselves get through the hard parts of life." (146)
For my clean readers, please note there are some language, mild intimacy and scenes of drug use, teenage smoking and drinking in this book.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.
Most recent customer reviews
The Mermaids of Lake Michigan did not at all play out the way I expected. And that’s not really a bad thing. Just different.Read more