Mermaid ParkTitle: Mermaid Park
Author: Beth Mayall
Pages:248 (paperback)
Rating: 4/5 stars

For our Wednesday review, we thought we’d do something a little bit different. Hence, the first ever Bookmarks Playlist Review. I know, exciting right?!?

Basically, I’m going to pick a book and say a little bit about it, then direct you to a playlist to listen to while reading the book. For today’s book, in lament celebration of the commencement of summer, I picked Mermaid Park by Beth Mayall. It’s a summertime beach read in all aspects.

Mermaid Park is about sixteen-year-old Amy Rush and her extreme dislike of everything having to do with her family. Her stepfather verbally abuses her, mother doesn’t realize her lovely second husband is hurting her oldest daughter, and her sister is practically perfect in every way. So when she is forced to head off to the Jersey shore with the family and an add on with an extreme hair obsession (courtesy of her sister’s social life), Amy isn’t exactly happy.

But when they arrive at the motel owned by a childhood friend of Amy’s mother, she finds that it’s not as terrible as she thought. Sure, her stepdad’s abuse worsens, and her sister and company are horrid, she’s intrigued by Dylan, the resident beach guy. And there’s an unpopular pool right outsider her door in which she can keep up her swimming until team starts up again.

Finally, though, her sister goes too far, and Amy accidentally breaks a window. Helped along by her sister’s suggestions, her mother decides that Amy did it on purpose. And so it is decreed that Amy will stay at the motel all summer to work so she can replace the damaged window.

Enter Mermaid Park, the tourist attraction featuring real live mermaids swimming in their home tank, staying underwater for far too long to be human. Amy is amazed, immediately consumed by the idea of looking that graceful. And so she decides on her summer job, even though no positions are open at the park. She finally lands a gig as a sort of junior janitor, cleaning up after the girls who slide their legs into plastic fins and perform in a fish tank of epic proportions. Eventually her determination and patience pays off, and she is allowed to swim with the girls, finally as beautiful as they are. But being a fish isn’t that easy, especially when she has to go back to her everyday vacation life, pretending that she has a job at a pizza place because she is banned from the neighborhood around the park. But as the final show looms closer, can she keep the secret?

All in all an amusing read that sticks with you for a while – I think I first read it in 2009. It’s a good book to read in the sun, as that somehow enhances the realism of the story. It might not be the kind of book to spring for the hardcover though, as you will inevitably be throwing the book at the wall/sand/in the pool at some point.

And now for the playlist:

A very short explanation of each song and why it was chosen (these will make more sense after reading the book, but no spoilers, promise):
I’m So Sick – Flyleaf Amy in the car on the way to her vacation
Crave You – Flight Facilities Amy’s song for Dylan
Hurricane Drunk – Florence + the Machine Amy takes a run while angry and finds the park
Aha (Instrumental) – Imogen Heap Amy’s first view of the park
Audition Day – Oh Land Amy’s first day at the park
Another Town – Regina Spektor Amy’s thoughts about herself if she were a mermaid at the park
I’m In Here – Sia Amy’s lonely
Bring on the Wonder – Susan Enan Amy begins to learn from the park and let go of some of her problems
Ooh La La – Goldfrapp Amy spends time with the girls
She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5 Final resolution

And there you have it! I’ll see you on Friday.