Author: Suzanne Kamata
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Elise Faulkner is more at home in the waters of her beloved Lake Michigan than on land where her beauty queen mom is always on her back about her lack of a social life; her sister is dating the boy of her dreams; her favorite penpal--the one who wrote about mermaids in Ghana--has gotten married and ended their correspondence; and no one's allowed to talk about her glamorous great-grandmother, the deep-sea wreck diver. Elise is biding her time with books until she can flee. But then crazy Chiara Hanover pops into her life, as does Miguel, a mysterious carnival worker whose dark future has been predicted by a gypsy.
The Mermaids of Lake Michigan by Suzanne Kamata is about change, growth and reality. Set in the 1970s, this coming of age novel surprised me with its disconnect that connects. The story itself reads like a journal, a memoir of sort that sees to the growth of our main character Elise. And because of that, it reads exactly like what it is, a teenager's journal, with added depth. Sometimes you see the development in Elise's character, and then the next, it reverts itself back to uncertainties. I had a hard time connecting with the characters. They were all too distinct with the stereotype they each played which gives way to understand where that character is coming from. However, it also doesn't seem to flow or connect with each other on an emotional level. Despite that, I am impressed by the fluidity of the author's writing style, as well as how she handled intimacy which was alluded and not expressive, matching the style we've come to expect. It's surprising how as we near the end, how well executed all plot points were. Everything is full circle and everything had its purpose, creating that connection that I felt lacked in characters. Sometimes it's just a story, and this is Elise's story.
"It occurred to me that sometimes people need stories to help themselves get through the hard parts of life." (146)
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.
Please do not re-quote from the book quotes I've noted here. They are from an uncorrected proof copy (ARC) and are not to be shared.
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Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two children. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including Real Simple, Brain, Child, Crab Orchard Review, and The Japan Times. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/ Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival Award, and winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award for the novel.
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