Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings

Helene Boudreau
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2010   ISBN: 978-1402244124

It should have been a perfectly ordinary, not very exciting day. After all, going to the mall with a friend to buy a bathing suit is not usually the kind of expedition that leads to drama. Unfortunately for Jade, her trip to the mall to buy a bathing suit turns into a disaster. She gets her period for the first time while she is at the mall, she bumps into a boy she likes while she is trying to buy sanitary pads at the drug store without being seen, and her father (without meaning to of course) embarrasses her.

   Worn out by all of this, Jade decides to have a bath when she gets home. Soothed by the warm water, Jade nods off and when she wakes up she finds out that something terrible has happened to her. Where her legs used to be she now has a great big tail! What makes the situation even more bizarre is that her father is not freaked out by her tail, nor is he surprised when it appears.  

   Jade is totally blown away when her father explains that Jade’s mother Michaela – who drowned a year ago – was a mermaid. Apparently, Michaela used to live in the ocean, but after she washed ashore during Hurricane Jade, she had a hard time adjusting to life in the ocean because her body had adapted to breathing air. It was decided that the best thing to do would be to allow Michaela’s body to full transform so that she could be a human, and this is what happened. It would appear that Jade has inherited her mother’s ability to turn into a mermaid.

   Not long after finding out about her mother’s extraordinary story Jade’s tail painfully transforms back into legs. She and her father are very relieved and hopeful that the transformation will not happen again anytime soon. Jade tries to go back to being the person she was before the tail event, but this is hard to do. She cannot share her secret with anyone and she cannot help thinking about her mother. If her mother was a mermaid, why did she drown?

   Not long after that terrible day Jade is walking along the lake shore when she sees her mother, her mermaid mother swimming underwater. She appears to be trying to tell Jade something, but is pulled away before she can communicate. Jade races to the water and tries to rescue her mother from the merpeople who are trying to take her away. For a brief time Jade, transformed into a mermaid again, is able to talk to her mother and she finds out that her mother is being held captive in the lake by the merpeople. Jade’s mother needs to get back to the ocean and she needs Jade’s help to make this happen.

   Told from Jade’s point of view, this wonderful story will delight readers who like fantasy tales. What makes this story unique is that Jade is a perfectly normal teenager with normal teenager problems: except for the fact that she can grow a tail and breathe under water. As the story unfolds it is interesting to see how Jade copes with her increasingly complicated life. Readers will be amused by her honest and true-to-life voice, and they will appreciate how hard it would be to have a double life.

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