Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath

Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath

Helene Boudreau
For ages 12 and up
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2012   ISBN: 978-1402264467

The month before Jade’s fourteenth birthday was probably the most dramatic and confusing month of her life. She found out that her mother was a mermaid and that she Jade (a half mermaid) would grow a mermaid’s tail when she inhaled water. Jade then found out that her mother did not drown a year ago and she was able to rescue her mother from imprisonment and set her free in the ocean. Jade was kissed for the first time by a boy called Luke, and then she found out that Luke was a mer, which is what mermaids call themselves.

   Since that month full of drama, Jade’s life has been pretty boring. She’s been working at Bridget’s Ice Cream Parlor and she and her father have been trying to find Jade’s mother without much success. How do you find a mermaid in an ocean? Luke has been away at camp and has not been able to get in touch because he is not allowed to use a cell phone.

   Then, without warning, things start to happen. Jade decides that the only way to make any progress finding her mother is to change into a mermaid and explore the ocean for herself.  Since she does not know the first thing about being a mermaid, Luke introduces Jade to Reese, his mer friend. After Jade enters the ocean (reluctantly because she hates getting wet and swimming) and grows a tail, Reese takes her to meet his uncle. It turns out that Reese’s uncle is guarding a culvert that leads to a tidal pool, the pool where Jade’s mother is changing into a human. Unlike Jade, who can transform from a human into a mer in a short period of time, full blooded mers have to go through a difficult process before they can grow legs and feet.  The transformation can take days and it requires that the mermaid lie in a tidal pool where the conditions are just perfect so that the transformation can to take place.

   Jade cannot get to the tidal pool through the culvert because it is being guarded by mer sentries, so she decides to get to the pool from the land. Jade finds out that the pool is behind a mall and she takes  a bus to the mall with Luke and her friend Cori. When they get to the mall, they find out that they cannot get to the pool because it is part of a construction area which is surrounded by a high fence. A local developer plans on filling in the land and building an addition to the mall on the site. As they watch huge trucks go rumbling by, the teens realize that they have to do something and do it quick before Jade’s mother is buried under tons of rock and earth.

  In this second Real Mermaids title, Jade has to deal with a whole new set of problems. Readers will find it hard not to laugh as they follow Jade as she stumbles from one messy situation to another. It is difficult not to grow fond of the half-mermaid who hates to swim, who has an overactive sweet tooth, and who cannot seem to avoid trouble to save her life. Jade’s voice is genuine, often funny, and sometimes painfully honest.