From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Before the school year is even completely over, Sam's dad quits his job and takes the 17-year-old and his older brother, who's home from college, to a sleepy Outer Banks beach town for the summer. Sam's mom left abruptly months earlier and the three are still reeling from her sudden departure. Ensconced in a rundown rental, the boys spend the summer partying, swimming, and trying to get to know the beautiful, blond, ephemeral-looking girls who seem to be everywhere in town. There's something odd about them; for one thing they can't take their eyes off Sam-which is not a problem he's used to. It turns out that he holds the key to unlocking the curse that has been cast upon the lovely young women. Well, he can help one of them at least. Legends of mermaids, magic, and curses coupled with teenage lust and in-your-face raunchy lingo (including myriad derogatory references to girls and sexual innuendos) make this a unique attempt to combine seemingly disparate elements. This novel is Hans Christian Andersen's "Little Mermaid" meets modern teenage angst. Sam's voice rings true and is quite compelling as he copes with his mother's abandonment and his first forays into love. A fairy tale for a decidedly older audience.-Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Last winter, Sam’s mother ran away into “something called Women’s Land,” leaving his father first catatonic, then weirdly proactive and involved in Sam’s life. When Sam’s brother returns from college, their father takes them to a beach town that appears to be run by beautiful blonde young women, whose accents are unplaceable and exotic. These Girls (with a capital G) seem bound by unknowable rules. Out of all these mysterious women, Sam finds DeeDee, who, like him, understands betrayal and parental abandonment but on a level that even he can’t fathom. Split between Sam’s observations of the events and passages from the Girls’ collective attempts to explain their dramatic and confused origin (“First we are alone. We’re not sure how we find one another, but we do. Then we are still alone, but in the way sardines are alone.”), Madison’s novel offers up a feast of mythology and human nature. The author nimbly exercises Sam’s running-monologue narration, with raunchy, sarcastic sentences and oddly vulnerable bro-speak weave with ethereal, spellbinding descriptions of love, scenery, or epiphany. This command of language, both informal and beautiful, lifts the work from a basic boy-meets-fantastical creature tale to something both familiar and tragically moving. This isn’t just a supernatural beach read; it’s a rare and lovely novel, deserving of attention from discriminating readers. Grades 9-12. --Courtney Jones