Mermaid Park

Mermaid Park

3.9 32
by Beth Mayall

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Sixteen-year-old Amy rush doesn’t expect much from her summer at the Jersey shore, until she stumbles on Mermaid park, an old tourist spot where girls dress in fabulous costumes and put on underwater shows. working at the park changes Amy’s life in more ways than she could have imagined. she finds romance, a newfound self-confidence, and discovers

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Sixteen-year-old Amy rush doesn’t expect much from her summer at the Jersey shore, until she stumbles on Mermaid park, an old tourist spot where girls dress in fabulous costumes and put on underwater shows. working at the park changes Amy’s life in more ways than she could have imagined. she finds romance, a newfound self-confidence, and discovers breathtaking revelations about long-buried family secrets.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Teen girls need more books like this one! (VOYA)
Children's Literature
For 16-year-old Amy, the opportunity to escape the endless family fighting by spending the summer in a New Jersey beach resort town seems ideal. And, although she was warned to avoid that end of town, she is drawn to the Mermaid Park. A strong swimmer, she dreams of being one of the mermaids who effortlessly glides through the water in the aquarium. Her dreams also include a perfect non-clingy boyfriend. Surprisingly, her mother and stepfather agree to her spending the summer in Wildwood, and she lands a job cleaning in the park. Hard work and some lucky breaks get her into the show, and her growing self-confidence attracts a different kind of boy. Also some strong words from a new friend and her mother's godmother help her see how she had contributed to her own problems, and how she might be different. The strength of this coming-of-age story is the clear depiction of how hard it is to actually make dreams come true. Blisters, endless practice, and determination in the face of fear are necessary to her success as a mermaid. Amy's growing ability to look beyond herself leads to surprising insights into her family, too. Complete with a promising romance, this is pleasing, undemanding summer reading for high-school girls. 2005, Razorbill/The Penguin Group, Ages 13 to 18.
—Kathleen Isaacs
Amy-high school sophomore, one of the top two varsity swimmers, and attractive to clingy guys-is headed for the Jersey shore on a three-day vacation with her family. Her mother, once a champion swimmer herself, is now landlocked but has a penchant for mermaids. Her stepfather Tom's cutting remarks slice Amy, but her little sister, Mel, charms Tom when Amy angers him. Wildwood is where their mother summered annually, staying with her friend Lynne's family, until she married the girls' father. Although Lynne visits them each year, this trip is Amy's first glimpse of her mother's past summer haven. Once there, Amy spies dreamboat Dylan, who also likes her. Unhappy with her family dynamics, Amy inadvertently wins the opportunity to stay for the summer with Lynne, whereupon her adventures begin. Although Amy finds herself that summer, surpassing gawky to become a head-turner and building on her strengths, her story is less a coming-of-age saga than a sometimes-daring summer adventure. The interpersonal and historical family complications make for a slow start (which pays off in the end), but Amy's angst will hold some readers long enough to be rewarded with romance and adventure. Those who hang in will be richly rewarded-enough to pass it on to friends. A satisfying, wholesome novel, wherein the first kiss is long anticipated and the sparks result solely in cuddling and kissing, it will make a good substitute for today's highly sexed Gossip Girls and A-List series titles. Teen girls need more books like this one. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High,defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, Razorbill/Penguin Putnam, 256p., Ages 11 to 18.
—Cynthia Winfield
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-Amy is not looking forward to a three-day vacation with her family at the Jersey shore, visiting her mother's godmother, Lynne, who owns a motel. The last thing the 16-year-old wants is be stuck with her mother, with whom she has been fighting; her difficult stepfather, who picks on her; her pretty younger sister; and her sister's friend. But when they arrive, she instantly connects with Dylan, a local boy who does odd jobs for Lynne, and discovers Mermaid Park, an underwater spectacular that features teenage girls in mermaid costumes. Amy then stays for the rest of the summer without her family and vows to become one of those swimmers. Mayall realistically portrays a conflicted teen who thinks that the world is out to get her. Readers will identify with her struggle to find herself, relate to others, and get over her fears in the 36-foot-deep tank. The other characters, including a beautiful friend, a grumpy boss, and a jilted boy, are believable as well. The interactions between Amy and her mother are painfully realistic, which makes the surprise ending concerning the girl's parentage even more meaningful. This is a good read that deals with real growing-up issues.-Carly B. Wiskoff, Great Neck Library, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
On an early summer vacation with her family at the seaside hotel of her mother's godmother, Lynne, 16-year-old Amy decides that she wants to get along better with everyone, especially her crude, abusive stepfather and her younger sister, who seems to face life with ease. After several family blowouts, however, Amy takes off one evening and discovers an eerily beautiful mermaid-themed park. Mysteriously drawn to it, she convinces Lynne and her mother to allow her to spend the rest of the summer at the beach, so she can secretly work at the park. A champion swimmer back home, Amy must prove her ability to perform to the other "mermaids"-and to herself. Author Mayall creates real, developed characters; juxtaposes moments of pain with wonderment; and packs a powerful punch in the ending. Uncovering family secrets causes Amy to reassess the truths in her life, reconnect with loved ones and wonder what the future will bring. Once in on the secrets, readers will want to piece together all the clues they gleaned throughout the story. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

I was underwater when suddenly the guy I'd seen at the pool earlier appeared. Standing in the corner, tan and relaxed, he put on swimmer's goggles and slid under the water's surface. As my sister Mel and I stood at the pool's edge, I felt a shiver run through me. I wanted him to notice the graceful muscles of my back, my calves. Thrill sped up my pulse. Maybe he was thinking I was amazing, wishing someone like me would notice someone like him.

There was a small splash as Mel tossed the penny into the pool, then a bigger splash of Mel diving in.

Too fast, showing off, I raised my arms and blindly thrust toward the water, knowing right away it was all wrong. I opened my eyes just as my chin scraped the concrete bottom-but my hand, it grabbed the dark spot I saw from the corner of my eye. I had gotten the penny.

I broke the surface, touching the small patch of rough skin and feeling the sting that surely meant at least a little blood.

"Are you okay?" he asked, breaking the surface right in front of me. He took my hand away from my chin to see, and, shocked by the sting and by his touch, I let the penny slip between my fingers. So close, his brow furrowed, blue eyes studying my injury. "Just a scrape," he said. "Keep swimming-the chlorine is good for it."

I lowered myself to nose deep into the water, studying the way the late-afternoon sunlight made highlights on the droplets on his upper back. Suddenly I felt a swish in the water next to me. Mel surfaced right then with the penny.

"Mine again," she said, her eyes quickly flashing to the guy. I met his eyes and he looked at me, like he half expected me to correct her-No, I found it first-but I just let her have the moment.

"So, I don't know what I'm going to do," Melissa said to her friend Trina, like[KT1] they'd been mid-conversation. "I have to get those letters to some office-city something, city council? And they want them by, like, next week."

Trina shrugged at Mel. "I don't understand"-flipping over lazily-"why you bother."

Mel shook her head. Then she looked at the guy and said, "I'm doing this petition thing to build a summer camp for underprivileged kids."

"Oh," he said. He looked at me to see if I was impressed. I blew bubbles out of my nose into the water.

"Who's the petition for?" he asked.

Mel paused a beat to dip her hair back in the water, making it sleek against her head. Looking back at him, she said, "Habitat for Humanity."

His brow furrowed. "They build houses for the poor."

"And now they'll build a summer camp too."

"But shouldn't you be collecting donations or something instead of signatures?" he asked. "Aren't petitions for stuff like gun control, stuff people have clashing opinions about? Who's against a camp for poor kids?" My laugh caught me by surprise, coming out as a burst of air bubbles underwater. Mel headed for the side of the pool, in no hurry.

His brow furrowed adorably. "Wait," he said, looking at her. "You're making this up. There is no petition, is there?"

"There is," Mel said, hiking herself up on the edge of the pool.

"Show it to me."

Mel lowered her brows. "What do you have against poor people anyway?" she said, an edge to her voice now. Then to me and Trina, "C'mon, it's time to go." Trina slowly sat up, started gathering towels.

I didn't budge and it took Mel several seconds to realize this.

"Fine. Miss dinner if you want."

I ducked underwater and swam to the far end of the pool in one single breath, hoping he would follow. And he did. When he surfaced, he was so close I could smell his cinnamon chewing gum. His wet eyelashes were jet black around intense eyes, the color of water.

He put on his goggles and dove downward. Seconds later, he surfaced with the penny. He pointed at me, then at the side of the pool, smiling wickedly. We hoisted ourselves up onto the edge, cool pool water streaming off us in rivulets. He handed me the coin. "Your toss."

How sweet. Then I pointed at his goggles. "Cheating."

He slid them down around his neck. "I forgot. If you're blind, I'm blind."

He dove in shallow like me, and we both shot quickly to the other end. Chalky white pool bottom stretched out in front of me. No sign of the penny. I glanced over and saw the fuzzy outline of him still searching too. Then I saw him pause and I followed his gaze. It was on the second step from the bottom.

He swam toward it fast, and I chased. Then, just before he got to the step, he reversed his arm stroke to bring himself to a halt, and my momentum carried me into him. He paused a beat to give me a chance to get the penny. I took his hand and moved it toward the penny to pick it up. When we surfaced, we were both breathing hard, trying to stop smiling.

Little whiskers on his cheeks and chin made me want to touch his face. He caught me looking. "Let's just swim," he said.

We started in lazy circles, far from each other, but soon found ourselves in the deep end. I pushed off the wall, showing off, doing a flip underwater that left my hair floating above me. He pushed off and came near, touching my hair. I thought of his chin stubble and pictured my lips pressing against it.

I headed back up, and he surfaced right after me. "Are you here tomorrow?"

I felt little happy things doing a dance in my stomach, and I tried to sound casual. "Yes. Are you?"

He smiled. "I'm always here."

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Teen girls need more books like this one! (VOYA)

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