Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

First published in 2009 by Point, an imprint of Scholastic Inc

Many are drawn to Selkie Island. Few know why. When Miranda Merchant goes there with her mother for the summer, she is sixteen, level-headed and interested in science and everything that can be logically explained. Stepping off the ferry, she is greeted with secrets, legend and lore. What is it about her history that makes her feel such a connection to the island, and, more importantly, to mysterious local boy Leo?
I wanted to read this book because of the mermaid factor. Was not really into reading another YA paranormal romance, but this did have a nice freshness to it, and I’ve certainly read worse. Sea Change was exactly what I expected: a cute, easy read with a love story imbued with an evocative summery charm.
Certain things bugged me: for instance, Miranda isn’t even on Selkie Island for two weeks (as far as I can tell), and yet she is so completely sure Leo is ‘the one’ after, um, four days, and prepared to give up her internship and education to stay with him. I don’t care how consuming the love is, that isn’t a good message to be sending to bright, capable teenage girls. Also, the conflict between Miranda and her Mum felt forced and put upon, with much over-reacting by both of them. I could see where it had its place in the story but I remained unconvinced. I also disliked Miranda’s make-over scene – after reading so many in other books I just can’t stomach them and I also don’t like the idea that teenage girls need to be physically made over by someone else to remind them that they are beautiful. All this makes me sound like a total hater, but for the most part I did enjoy this book and found it inoffensive.
The setting of Selkie Island is rather gorgeous and wonderful, and suits the tone of the love story between Miranda and Leo. I actually enjoyed all the periphery characters as well (Cee Cee, T.J, Mr Illingworth etc). I think Friedman uses them well – they do just enough to remain interesting and not become caricatures or flat. Leo was cute, but I wasn’t really into his relationship with Miranda, but I guess it hit all the marks for YA paranormal romance.
And lastly: there isn’t actually that much mermaid action in this book. It is more hints and mystery and speculation. But I think Sea Change is about a lot of things and Friedman mostly employs them well, so it was an enjoyable read nevertheless.

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