The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid by Tania Unsworth
|The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid by Tania Unsworth|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Wonderfully immersive! I read this start to finish in one go because I absolutely had to know what happened!|
|Buy? yes||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: July 2018|
|External links: Author's website|
Stella's mother died when she was a little girl. Stella is growing up in a house with her dad, who is often away, and her grandmother, who is starting to experience the onset of dementia. This is all hard enough for a young girl, but at the same time Stella finds that she feels like rather an oddball, struggling to fit in at school, and as her grandmother begins to lose her grip on reality, Stella struggles with feeling very alone. When Stella's only school friend suddenly moves away, Stella struggles even more. She is desperate to find out what happened to her mum and to uncover her family's secrets.
Reading this book had me feeling, for a morning, like a ten year old girl again, utterly in the grip of a story and unable to do anything else until I knew how everything turned out. I love it when stories do that, when they become so intriguing, or so compelling, that you absolutely just have to read them, all the way through. I had initially sat down to read a little of the book, before getting on with my tasks for the day, but I was unable to stop, and read right through until lunchtime, when I finished it with a contented sigh!
Stella is a great central character. She's likeable, and you feel sorry for her too, so you're willing her to succeed in her quest to find answers. Her friend, Cam, is also a brilliant, slightly bonkers character and I enjoyed her part in the story very much too. Stella's grandmother is also a great character, and I felt very sad, seeing her slowly starting to forget who Stella was. Yet it's all handled sensitively in the book, so it's not overly depressing, and once Stella sets out to find some answers it becomes more of an adventure story than one that's specifically about dementia or the death of a parent.
I also really enjoyed how for much of the story, the book hovers on the edge between fantasy and real-life, and you're not quite sure, for the longest time, what the truth is about Stella's mother. I won't reveal any spoilers, but I was happy with how things turned out! Although it's written for more confident readers, the chapters are short, and the book itself isn't too long, so those who are just getting to grips with longer novels, probably around the 8 to 12 age bracket, won't find this too much of a challenge. I whipped through it, but it left me with that comfortable sort of feeling at the end that means I'd want to keep this on a shelf ready to re-read at some point. I used to be a voracious re-reader as a child, going through my favourites over and over again, and I can definitely see that this would be an easy one to sink back into whenever the mood took me.
There are what some filmmakers like to refer to as 'moments of peril'! But there's nothing too terrifying, and really it's adventurous more than anything. I really liked the style of the writing, easy and informal, with some lovely moving moments. I finished it with a happy-sad smile, happy that it had been such a pleasurable read, and sad that it was over. This is definitely one I'd recommend.
Further reading suggestion: You might also enjoy Fish Boy by Chloe Daykin.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid by Tania Unsworth at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid by Tania Unsworth at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.