Customer Reviews for

The Mermaid of Brooklyn: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted April 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    What initially appealed to me about this novel was its Brooklyn

    What initially appealed to me about this novel was its Brooklyn setting. Jenny Lipkin is married to Harry, a man who works for his family's failing candy supply business. They have two daughters, preschooler Betty and baby Rose.
    They live in a cramped (but expensive) Park Slope walk-up, and they seem to argue a lot. Harry has a gambling problem and feels  he is meant to do better things. One day Harry calls and says he is stopping to get cigarettes and doesn't return. Jenny is a little worried, but to be honest, Harry has done this before; gone on a gambling binge, and returned flush with enough money to buy off Jenny's anger.
    But this time feels diferent. Harry's brother and mother seem to be more worried than usual, and there is money missing from the business. Jenny is angry, but she has two girls to care for, and has to figure out a way to make ends meet without Harry's sales commissions coming in.
    Jenny takes the kids to the park everyday, where she hangs out with her good friend Laura and Laura's daughter while they swoon over Sam the Cute Dad, whom all of the mommies have a crush on. The playground scenes are so real, and as I pass the city playgrounds and parks I see these women and wonder what it is like to raise young children in the city. Thanks to Shearn, I now have some insight.
    I had two children 18 months apart, and Shearn expertly captures the claustrophobia of two young children and a mom stuck inside. Trying to keep them fed, entertained, bathed and put to bed is exhausting, let alone doing in in a tiny, hot apartment with toys everywhere.
    One day, Jenny reaches the breaking point. She makes a bad decision, and this is where it gets really interesting. Jenny is saved by a mermaid, a rusalka as they are known in the Slavic fairy tales that Jenny studied.
    This mermaid now inhabits Jenny's body along with Jenny, and she is ready to have some fun. She encourages Jenny to get her act together, and to go after Sam the Cute Dad because the mermaid wants to have sex. The interaction between Jenny and the mermaid provides much of the humor in the story.
    Jenny does get her act together, and finds that she is really good at sewing, starting a home business copying fancy boutique dresses for the other, wealthier Park Slope mommies. She is at odds with her husband's family, although her relationship with Harry's mother Sylvia improves as Sylvia comes to help with the children.
    The Mermaid of Brooklyn is a story that combines some hard truths about marriage and motherhood with a splash of a fairy tale. There is some question as to whether the mermaid truly exists or is something that Jenny conjured in her mind to help her deal with her husband's desertion, and the fact that Jenny had some emotional issues in the past feeds into that speculation. It is up to reader to ultimately decide.
    Shearn takes us inside not only this intriguing woman Jenny's mind and apartment, but also the unique world of Park Slope. Everyone there feels pressure to keep up, and we go inside the various haunts- Two Little Red Hens bakery, Donuts diner and of course, beautiful Prospect Park, where much of the action takes place.
    Don't overlook the Q&A section at the end where Shearn gives the origins of her story and characters.
    It took a awhile to get into this book, but once I did, I was hooked on Jenny's story. It is a smart, sparkling and well-written novel that captured my heart and my mind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2013

    Jenny Lipkin is mom of two little girls and wife of Harry.  

    Jenny Lipkin is mom of two little girls and wife of Harry.  When Harry calls to say he is stopping for cigarettes and then doesn’t come home her life is turned upside down.  Jenny was overwhelmed with her life before Harry left, now that he is gone she reaches her breaking point.  Contemplating suicide by jumping off a bridge, Jenny changes her mind and trips off the bridge.  A mermaid comes to her and brings her back to life and helps her live her life again.

    This is a book that took me some time to get into but when I did I could not put it down.  Amy Shearn hit the nail on the head when telling the story of a day in the life of a stay at home mother of two babies.  Add to that the stress of not knowing if your husband will ever be home again and you will sympathize with Jenny.  While Jenny starts off rough she got her act together and figured out how to kepe living, even using a talent she took for granted to earn extra money.

    I loved the setting of Park Slopes.  An area were kids must get into the right preschools and mothers must have it together all the time.  The fact that most of this story takes place at Prospect Park gave me great scenes to imagine while reading.  Trying to imagine the small apartment that costs a fortune with all the supplies that babies and toddlers need made me appreciate my small but spacious house.  Especially the part of walking up stories of stairs while carrying the baby, the stroller, and everything else a simple outing requires.

    If your look for a story with some surprising magical twists this is a story for you.  I will recommend this. 

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  • Posted May 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest r

    I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. Jenny Lipkin was a magazine editor. She and Harry had a whirlwind romance that created a five year marriage and two kids. When we meet Jenny, she’s now a stay at home mom with days filled with long walks and daily play dates at the park. One night she calls her husband at work and asks him to bring home milk, he says he’s going to get cigarettes and that’s the last she hears of him.

    I enjoy chick lit and Amy Shearn doesn’t disappoint! There were moments when Jenny’s reactions just had me laughing. Her description of Jenny at her worst was pretty understandable. The poor woman was overwhelmed taking care of everything and now Harry’s gone, so the little things he did to help out are gone as well. This was truly a unique and fun novel. I look forward to reading her other published novels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2014

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