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The Mermaids of Lake Michigan

A lyrical, compelling coming-of-age story with magical elements.

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A water-loving girl struggles to find her place on land in this novel.

Growing up in Grand Haven, Michigan, by the shores of the titular lake, Elise Faulkner is shy and withdrawn, much to the chagrin of her ex–beauty queen mother. Despite the former Miss Coast Guard’s efforts to help Elise make local friends, she prefers to stay home reading or writing to one of her international pen pals, like Fabrice Nwanko, the Ghanian schoolgirl who reveals her uncle’s encounter with a mermaid. Elise is fascinated by mermaids because of her scandalous great-grandmother Margaret Stieg, a wreck diver who claimed her life was saved by one when her oxygen was cut off during an underwater mission to retrieve a sunken diamond ring. Elise’s quiet, dreamy life changes when her mother introduces her to world-traveling, cigarette-smoking Chiara. As the two girls become fast friends, bonding over vintage fashion and playing hooky at the beach, Elise discovers she’s inherited some of Margaret’s daring after all—especially after meeting Miguel Ballesteros, a Roma carnival worker and flamenco guitarist who tells her, “I’m your destiny.” Will their romance lure her away from the lake—and the people—she loves? And will the darkness of Miguel’s future sweep Elise under with it? While Elise remains a fairly passive character throughout the narrative, Kamata (The Beautiful One Has Come, 2015, etc.) pulls off the difficult trick of writing a book that’s thoughtful and slow-paced without overexplaining or making the story plodding. Her writing is clear and confident, with an eye for vivid details—“dormer windows like lidded eyes” or “one round little pea...like a jewel.” She unfortunately uses the term “Gypsy” in place of “Roma” more than once, and Miguel’s air of mystery may read as stereotypical. But readers carried along by Elise’s tale will find themselves wanting more.

A lyrical, compelling coming-of-age story with magical elements.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-942545-59-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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