Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Splash into Summer: Sea Change by Aimee Freidman

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman is a beautiful story of the sea and of budding teen romance and coming-of-age in a small town in the South...it is a story of mystery, suspense, history and family. I can't really tell if it's a story about mermaids. I think it wants to be. I think it thinks it is. I'm not so sure.

Miranda comes from a long Southern family who vacations every year on Selkie (no there aren't any selkies in this book) Island. Miranda and her mother have gone back to the island to pack up their family home. While doing this Miranda falls for a local boy whose mysteriousness seems to be tied into a book of mermaids found on her grandmothers' bookshelf and to the island itself.

The story of Miranda's growth into a girl who becomes a young adult who doesn't just do what she's told and doesn't live in her life by stereotypes. I really liked how Friedman gives us that stereotypical Southern Belle and Southern Gentleman in several of the teen characters, but then she gives us characters who defy those stereotypes. I like that Miranda learns that just because you fight or disagree with your parents that doesn't mean they don't love you or that you don't love them. I especially love that there is a side of Miranda that she didn't even know existed and I love that her grandmother, even in her death, is helping her find that side.

Leo, a boy she meets on the coast of the island, is everything any girl wants in a man. He passionate and compassionate and good-looking, he loves all the things that she loves (science, sea creatures) and is from the island.

The only thing is, Leo, may or may not be a merman.

This is where Aimee Friedman lost me.

She spends all of this time setting up this mystery. Mercreatures are attracted to red and gold; the whole entire town of fishermen is decked out in red and gold. Leo is always mysteriously near water and has a vast knowledge of the lore and science surrounding the island. However, all of this back story never really comes to any type of conclusion.

I didn't mind the strange reason Miranda and Leo have a fight and I didn't mind how Miranda's mother seems to lose her mind once on the island flirting with an old flame and acting like a debutante. I did mind that this is supposed to be a mermaid story, even better a story about a merboy, and there's only a slight instant of tail fin. I don't mind connecting the dots in a mystery, but is it really a mystery if the author only just gives us a wee-bit to be curious about. In the end no questions are answered and, frankly, there are more questions asked. Is the guy on the ferry mer too? Is Miranda part mer? Was her grandmother and, in turn, her mother? At first, I thought that I had a bad copy of the book, that's how much is missing, but after reading other reviews I think this may be the intention of the novel. This book wants a sequel, although I hear there isn't one in the works at all.

This book has a lovely romance and is a great story of the growth of a girl who learns that things can live outside of her comfort zone and knowledge. If you are reading this book in the hopes of having a little mermaid action you may be disappointed. Maybe.

Review from Coffee and Cliffhangers

3 Stars
But, I was promised mermaids...*whine, whine, whine*

Teacher Advisories 
Sex 2/5
The connection between Leo and Miranda is pretty intense. They get close to going all the way a couple of times. One time he gets so fresh that she decides she no longer wants to see him, partly because it scares her and partly because he's so fresh. At least that's how I saw it. Miranda's new summer friends may or may not be true friends, one uses her sensuality to lure a guy away from Miranda.
Language 0/5
No cussing.
Substance Abuses 2/5
There are parties. There's underage drinking.
Violence 1/5
Miranda falls off a boat and is saved. There's some strife between the locals and the summer people.

Touchy Subjects
Science and Myth
Miranda's heart says that what she's reading and seeing couldn't possibly be true.
Leo's family has secrets. Miranda's family has secrets. The town maybe hiding a big secret. The summer people have their share of secrets.
Miranda's mother hasn't really told her a lot about her family and its history. Miranda's mother also acts pretty irresponsibly through-out the book, but expects Miranda to follow all her rules.

How this book is used in the classroom
1] Independent Read option

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