Friday, June 20, 2014

Review: Tides

Tides by Betsy Cornwell
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: June 4th 2013
Source: Library
Date Read: 6/18/14 to 6/20/14
304 Pages
Rating: ✰1/2

When high-school senior Noah Gallagher and his adopted teenage sister, Lo, go to live with their grandmother in her island cottage for the summer, they don’t expect much in the way of adventure.

Noah has landed a marine biology internship, and Lo wants to draw and paint, perhaps even to vanquish her struggles with bulimia. But then things take a dramatic turn for them both when Noah mistakenly tries to save a mysterious girl from drowning. This dreamlike, suspenseful story—deftly told from multiple points of view—dives deeply into selkie folklore while examining the fluid nature of love and family.

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MERMAIDS, SELKIES, FOLKLORE! This was supposed to be everything I wanted in a story. I have been on the search for such books, but it seems like I have yet to stumble across an amazing one. Although Tides met my expectations, I felt that something was missing in the storyline. However, it's still a pretty good read! I'm sure this is one of the first books I've read that discusses both bulimia and bisexuality.

The story of Tides revolves around the idea of selkies and their seal skins. By taking their seal skin off, they reveal their human self, which allows them to walk on land and also talk to each other. However, if their skin is taken away, say by a fisherman, then they are forever bound to him until they get their seal skin back.

And then there's Noah and Lo, a pair of siblings taking the summer off to stay with their divorced grandmother, Gemm, who is living with another woman named Maeb. We later find out that, yes, they are together (yay) but there's something off about Maeb. And also the new girl Mara, who Noah meets on his way to his internship. What could possibly be so mysterious about them? HM. I WONDER.

Actually, both Mara and Maeb revealed the fact that they were selkies very early on in the book, which is semi-surprising because most mermaid stories I've come across, the MCs keep this secret for a very long time. Instead, most of the plot of this book focused on the struggles in Maeb's pod. You see, LITTLE SELKIE YOUNGLINGS are being KIDNAPPED. GASP. How could someone do such a thing!?

When it comes to characters, I would have to say Lo develops the most throughout the story. Coming in, we see Lo struggling with the image of her body. More specifically, she hates herself and is bulimic. Fortunately, both her grandmother and Noah try in every way to help her, but you can see how Noah is getting a little tired. BUT SHE GROWS GUYS. Throughout the novel, we see her become more and more confident in herself. Also, another thing, Lo is adopted from China!. Unfortunately, she's put down because of it.

"Their dad probably would have made a crack about Lo insulated against the cold. She had been such a skinny baby, he'd say. Was New Hampshire really so much colder than China that she had to get fat just to keep warm?"

"Forgive me, Miss Gallagher. Mixed race-adoption was not so...common in my day"


Unfortunately, I didn't have as strong as a connection with Noah and Mara compared to Lo. I did like them as characters, but they aren't ones that will stick to me for a long time. With that said, I still liked them both. The romance was kind of insta-love, but the whole story didn't center on kissing or making out or constant thoughts about each other (well maybe just a little). But no, this was about SAVING BABIES.

My main gripe with Tides, is that the world of selkies could have been developed better, maybe just a little. I wanted to know more about their pod, how they came to be, more legends and folktales. This was more of a family story dealing with relationships, rather than a mythological one. AND I WANTED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT RONAN, the older selkie brother. Come on, why aren't there any male selkie/merman love stories out there? It shouldn't always be the girl who's the mermaid (Of Poseidon was an exception to this, but I wasn't that much of a fan of the book itself) The plot itself didn't even start until more than halfway in the novel. And plus it was obvious who the culprit was. THE KIDNAPPER. D:

Regardless, I enjoyed reading Tides. It kind of reminded me of Ingo, especially the feel of the writing. I'm still looking for more mermaid/selkie/whatever stories, so feel free to recommend me some. I'M STILL LOOKING FOR THE ONE!


  1. Sadly, I haven't had much luck with mer tales. And it looks like it's not going to change with this book either. Oh well.

  2. Hi! Your review pinged my Tides google alerts, and I just wanted to say thanks for reviewing my book, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Also, I am working on a Ronan-centric companion novel right now; it follows him to Ireland and gives a lot more background about the selkies. It'll be coming out either fall 2015 or spring 2016. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks so much for visiting my blog!!!! I'm definitely going to be looking forward to that companion novel now!

  3. I actually seriously need this book in my life ASAP after reading this review. I kind of like mermaids! I've read Of Poseidon which I can never spell and that drives me bonkers, buuuut...I did love it! I thought it was funny. *snickers* I just borrowed Of Triton out the other day. ;) *dashes to goodreads*

    1. YAY MERMAIDS! Isn't it sad that there isn't a huge collection on that topic? And hahaah Of Poseidon! Not to crush your hopes and dreams, but I had to DNF Of Triton because I couldn't handle it anymore. BUT GO READ IT ANYWAYS. I want to see your review!

  4. I haven't read many Mermaid/Selkie books though I've had Of Poseidon on my shelf since it came out and I have never once picked it up, I'm not sure why. This one sounds really interesting and unique though I might give it a try!
    When I was younger I remember really loving this series called Emily Windsnap they're like middle grade or lower but when I was like eleven I read them over and over again, where did my love of mermaids go?
    I can think of one book to recommend and it's called Fathomless by Jackson Pierce and it's part of a Fairytale Retelling companion novels thing, though it's the only one i have read so far, I really enjoyed it and it has a mermaid type thing going on!

    1. Ahhhh thanks so much for the recommendation! I'll definitely go and check it out. And Emily Windsnap? I've never heard of it! There isn't much mermaid books in our lives, is there? This needs to be fixed.


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