Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings

Image of Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings (Real Mermaids, 1)
Release Date: 
November 30, 2010
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Reviewed by: 

“Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever.” That’s 14-year-old Jade’s description of an unbelievable day-in-the-life—a moment Hélène Boudreau captures with hilarious detail in this charming story about the particular pains of growing up mermaid.

The apparently very human Jade starts her day with a troubled shopping trip with her best friend, Cori, searching for a bathing suit to cover her, well, “sturdy” frame. The moment is soon complicated by the arrival of her first period and a dash to the local pharmacy. Financially tapped out, motherless Jade must then confess her troubles to her geeky father, who makes a spectacle of himself in the feminine hygiene aisle just as Jade has a chance encounter with a cute boy.

Yet all these embarrassing moments fade to black that evening, when Jade makes the shocking discovery that she’s part mermaid. So begins Jade’s struggle to understand what has happened to her, what it means for her future, and how her mother—from whom she inherited her web-footed tendencies—could possibly have died by drowning.

The investigation into this mystery sends her and her father on a strange adventure, one that she would love to share with her best friend—if she didn’t have to keep her suddenly freakish nature secret, even from Cori. Ms. Boudreau writes knowingly about the political minefield of adolescent girl relationships and surging guy-crushes, and she puts Jade in quite a crucible: Trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s death, pass high school, keep her friends, win the guy—and not morph into a fish in public.

The author is savvy enough to have left a few threads loose, and she has built enough conflict in the nascent mermaid world to warrant a very nice sequel. Oh, it’s never easy to be a 14-year-old girl. Bravo to Hélène Boudreau for hitting the bull’s-eye with a fresh, affectionate, watery twist on the classic coming-of-age-story.