Miranda Merchant comes to Selkie Island, a small strip of land off the coast of Georgia, fully prepared to help her mother sort through her grandmother’s belongings in the old mansion she once inhabited. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in with a cult similar to a Southern-fried version of “Gossip Girl,” nor to meet a boy so totally enticing — or so mysterious. And she definitely doesn’t expect to fall in love.
Aimee Friedman’s Sea Change came highly recommended by Juju of Tales of whimsy… and is filled to the brim with sea tales, folklore, a little bit of magic — and plenty of mystery. Miranda is a young woman firmly rooted in logic and practicality; an ace science student, she has no time for literature or anything science can’t explain. So when she meets Leo, a boy with emerald eyes and a penchant for appearing at a moment’s notice, she struggles to understand who he is. Or why she’s so attracted to him.
Of course, it’s not difficult to see why: he’s, um, gorgeous, like all boys shrouded in mystery in young adult literature! (Or most of them, anyway.) But why can’t Miranda stop thinking about him, defying her mother’s wishes to run to the beach and see him? She’s never been so “rebellious” before. He has a strange pull over her . . .
Okay, you can see I’m getting a little silly here. And that’s because the plot was a little silly! But before you think I’m going to slip right into snarktastic mode, let me say this: I really enjoyed this book. I did. Selkie was a glamorous, warm place, and I absolutely loved feeling like I was personally enveloped in the mist that surrounds the island! Though Miranda’s back story was a little thin and I couldn’t necessarily identify with her character, I did relate to what Friedman does so well in this story: capture the essence of falling in love.
That’s what this book is really about — Miranda realizing that, though she’s felt some heartache before, those were all bumps and knocks compared to the free-falling, world-encompassing feeling of falling in love for the first time. Though Leo and Miranda’s relationship felt a bit rushed — they’d only known each other a few days — I can’t really judge; even though it’s cheesy, “love at first sight” is a cliche for a reason. I believe it’s possible, so maybe that’s why I was able to suspend my incredulity long enough to really enjoy this story. At one point, I became really worried we were going to have a Twilight-esque “I know what you are!” moment, but we never had to suffer through that! (Though I wouldn’t have minded Leo sauntering up to Miranda purring, “Say it. Say it out loud.”)
There is plenty to enjoy here — exploits of the rich and famous; a gorgeous guy who may or may not be a mythical ocean creature; lush, summertime scenery; an old house and mysterious grandmother; the interesting family dynamic between Miranda and her mother Amelia Blue. Plus, folks have Southern accents. I would have liked more information on Amelia and her mother’s relationship, which seemed complex but interesting. Likewise, more history of Selkie and the other “Heirs” on the island would have helped me become further enveloped in the story. But as it stood, I loved the ambiguity of so many of the events . . . and the ending worked well for me.
Overall, a whimsical look at love one summer on a Southern island — with something extra for those sea-lovers out there. Easily readable in a day or two, it just might be the respite you need from a busy day at the office! And, like me, you might find yourself wondering when you can hop a ferry to Selkie to lose yourself for a long weekend. Or meet your own hot merman. You know — whichever.
3.5 out of 5!