Friday, September 24, 2010

Review - The Girl with the Mermaid Hair by Delia Ephron (3/5 stars)

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair
Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Teen, Social Issues
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperTenn
Release Date: January 5, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0061542602
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Bought from
Rating: 3/5 stars

I thought this book sounded quirky and interesting.  While the second half of the book is okay, the first half is pretty painful to get through.  This book is definitely not a fantasy at all (for some reason I thought it was) and is more of an over-characterized commentary on teen social disorders.  I listened to this on audio book and the audiobook was very well done.

Sukie is very, very absorbed in her appearance.  She is constantly agonizing over her reflection and taking "selfies" with her camera phone (pictures of her self).  She is so absorbed with herself that she doesn't have time for friends, she only has time to be perfect and...lonely.  Sukie has a mom as obsessed with her appearance as Sukie is and a dad who is a player, constantly trying to charm women who aren't her mother.  As her family disintegrates around her, Sukie is forced to take time to decide what really matters.

The first half of this book is a bit bizarre.  Probably three-quarters of the text is about Sukie looking at herself, perfecting herself.  She is a girl with serious issues, her perfection is more important to her than the people around her.  Sukie is obviously intelligent, she is top of her class; but lacks emotional intelligence.  Many times you feel like slapping her.  At points I was pressed to decide if this was supposed to be a humorous book or if Sukie was just really that clueless.

Things change when her mother comes home from the spa with a facelift (she went to get rid of her hideous nose which looked just like Sukie's) and Sukie finds out that her lovable dad is really a scumbag.  With no one to turn to Sukie turns to her Grandmother's mirror and her dog for support.  The mirror was supposed to be a fantastic element I think, but nothing all that odd or magical ever happens with it.  In a bizarre turn Sukie's family is dependent on the dog's opinion of everything to make decisions; this was supposed to be another fantastic element but kind of fell flat for me.

Also Sukie spends a lot of time caught in romance novel quality fantasies about her and the quarterback Bobo; that are entirely unrealistic but strange characterizations of how Sukie thinks the ideal relationship would work.

Sukie's parents are caricatures of real types of stereotypical characters.  As a reader you absolutely want to smack Sukie's mom for being so selfish and for what she has done to Sukie's perception of herself.

The second half of the book is more about Sukie's rebellion and her quest to find happiness. It is pretty much your typical teen-trying-to-fit-in type of story.  The story ended up a pretty up note.  The writing style was fine, nothing spectacular. 

Overall this was your run of the mill story about a teen trying to find her place in life.  The characters are almost clownish in their extremes and you will find yourself hard-pressed to sympathize with Sukie for most of the book.  The writing was average and the story okay.  Teens who are into these types are stories might dig this book; but beware there isn't much of a fantasy element to this book.  I personally won't be checking out any more of Ephron's books.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
The Girl with the Mermaid Hair 

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