Friday, 25 April 2014
TBR Jar Review: Tides by Betsy Cornwell
Publication Date: June 4th, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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When high-school senior Noah Gallagher and his adopted teenage sister, Lo, go to live with their grandmother in her island cottage for the summer, they don’t expect much in the way of adventure. Noah has landed a marine biology internship, and Lo wants to draw and paint, perhaps even to vanquish her struggles with bulimia. But then things take a dramatic turn for them both when Noah mistakenly tries to save a mysterious girl from drowning. This dreamlike, suspenseful story—deftly told from multiple points of view—dives deeply into selkie folklore while examining the fluid nature of love and family.
Okay, so, I've never read a book about selkies. I don't really know anything about their folklore. So going into this book I thought it would be quite similar to a mermaid book/read. Well turns out I got schooled in the basics of selkie folklore. And from what I learned it's quite interesting. I'm now definitely interested in checking out more fiction books based in that world. That being said, Tides had some interesting bits, but for the most part I was just reading to get to the end.
Noah and his sister Lo are spending the summer with their grandmother(Gemm) on her summer island. Noah will be interning at the local college in the marine biology department and Lo just needs to get away from her parents. She's been struggling with an eating disorder and this is her time to get strong again. So it's supposed to be a calm summer spending time with their grandmother and doing their own thing. Obviously that is not how things go down.
Noah and Lo have grown up on tales of the selkies. Gemm seems to have an infinite knowledge of them. So this summer is no different, she's still telling the tales and the siblings still want to hear them. The only difference is Gemm has a friend hanging around that seems to be have very strong feelings throughout the tale. As the reader I think it's pretty obvious why the story is affecting her so much. And also what type of "friend" she is to Gemm. Anyhow, Lo is quickly caught up on Gemm's and Maebh's relationship.
So we get three POV's; Noah, Lo and Mara, a selkie. Noah is starting his internship. It may not start exactly as planned because he ends up in the filing room. But he's determined. Lo is struggling with overcoming bulimia. You get the feeling that her dad has said some pretty nasty things to her in the past about her weight. And Mara is just discovering herself on land and in the sea.
One day Noah happens upon Mara who he thinks is drowning and tries to save her. From there the strike up a different kind of relationship. Secrets start to get spilled. Stories start to come undone. And Noah, Lo, Mara, Gemm and Maebh's lives start to entwine together.
I don't really have strong feelings either way about the characters. They were all alright. No stand outs. Noah is smart and awkward. Lo is frail but strong. Mara is feisty and confused. Gemm and Maebh just want to share their love and protect the children.
Cornwell starts the book on a sad and grim note. But starts to build it up to include love and hope. As Tides progresses something terrible happens(I saw it coming, and I'm sure I'm not alone there) and you're supposed to feel the mystery and urgent-ness of the situation. but unfortunately that all feel flat for me. I was expecting it to happen. I knew who was involved and nothing came as surprise. So that was a little disappointing. Tides does end on a happy note and I can see why this story might hit some readers on a more personal level.
I enjoyed the selkie folklore. I just wish I was more connected to the characters. In the end it was a decent read and anyone looking to get a start in the world of selkies would probably have a good start with Tides.