Thursday, July 26


by Alice Hoffman
Scholastic 2002

Boy, was I in some sort of mood when I wrote the following incoherent mess:

Simplistic and predictable, it reads more like an outline for a larger, deeper, more satisfying book. While it's a quick and easy read it isn't really enough to make a mediocre TV movie out of. Too bad. You wait for it to get good and it speeds right to the end.

Hm. I wonder how I really felt about it.

I can't for the life of me remember why it was I picked this up because I'd long been disappointed in Hoffman's books before this was published. Another in her books that deals with water and mermaids, I'm wondering if she has some inner aqua demon she's exorcising or if she's trying to corner a particular market.

One thing I've noticed is that she seems to have always been writing the same sort of fiction all along, only now that there's a "legitimate" place for a certain school of YA and middle grade fiction Hoffman seems to have found an appropriate home. Her adult books have always felt to me like the kind of thing brooding teenage girls would read (and wish they'd written).

So what's it about? As "I'm coasting this week" continues we find me looking back into my reading log and writing this illuminating summary:

Oak Grove is a town afraid of water following a bad flood years ago. Martha dreams of escaping this sterile town to visit the world cities her mother once danced in. Her best friends are orphaned foundlings who dream of the sea, brothers whose mother was a mermaid, their father a fisherman. When the trio decides to run away to the ocean fate, and flooding, bring all truths to light.

Truths. Such as they are, given that there is mermaid sex involved and boys with feet like salamanders. Further details of the story are fuzzy other then the fact that adult characters were thinly drawn and the fear of water in the town was ludicrously played. I'm pretty sure this was the book that made me wonder if a girl (let's face it, no boy would touch this) who had the patience to finish this wouldn't feel insulted.

This warmly human and unconventionally magical tale celebrates the power of finding your true identity.

That's from the Scholastic website. Yeah, I don't think anyone's finding any identity here, much less their true identity.

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