Publisher’s Synopsis: Everyone in the broken-down town of Chelsea, Massachusetts, has a story too worn to repeat—from the girls who play the pass-out game just to feel like they’re somewhere else, to the packs of aimless teenage boys, to the old women from far away who left everything behind. But there’s one story they all still tell: the oldest and saddest but most hopeful story, the one about the girl who will be able to take their twisted world and straighten it out. The girl who will bring the magic.
Could Sophie Swankowski be that girl? With her tangled hair and grubby clothes, her weird habits and her visions of a filthy, swearing mermaid who comes to her when she’s unconscious, Sophie could be the one to uncover the power flowing beneath Chelsea’s potholed streets and sludge-filled rivers, and the one to fight the evil that flows there, too. Sophie might discover her destiny, and maybe even in time to save them all.
3 out of 5 stars
Let me start off by saying that I am a HUGE GIANT FANGIRL TYPE FAN of Michelle Tea. I love her for her queer activism and have followed the stories of her partner, marriage and struggles to conceive.
Ok, now to the book. I’m not usually a big fan of Young Adult fiction but I do love fairy tales. I love the promise that behind the world we see everyday, there is another world unseen. A different world with magic where anything is possible.
“Mermaid in Chelsea Creek” is this sort of fairy tale. Chelsea is populated with a melting pot of cultures and beliefs that have traveled to America from the old countries. The stories all have one thing in common – they tell the legend of one girl, a very special girl who will save the world.
Sophie and her friend Ella play the “pass-out game” for a high and for something to do. When she is unconscious, the mermaid in the creek comes to her and starts to tell her of her destiny. The mermaid, a flock of pigeons, a witch, and the gorgeously androgynous Angel all help Sophie to discover her powers and train her for what is coming.
What I loved: The imagery is beautiful in this story, detailing both the filth and grime of depressed Chelsea and the wonder that Sophie experiences. I loved the Polish and Puerto Rican folk tale influences. Each character in the book is flawed, deeply flawed in some instances and I like the fact that our hero, Sophie, is not terribly happy with her destiny.
What I didn’t love: Most of this book was background and world building. It ended on a cliffhanger and seems to be a springboard for the next book in the series.
I did enjoy it and am sure I will read the next book in the series.