Morrow. Mar. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9780063257603. $30. FICTION/HORROR
DEBUT In this unnerving and poignant coming-of-age tale, fans of the sapphic longing of Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth or the razor sharp, surreal storytelling of The Pisces by Melissa Broder will be captivated by a young woman desperate to escape her reality for her destiny. Ren Yu has dreamed of being a mermaid since she was young. Not a mermaid of Disney movies, but one of ancient lore. One who lures and devours men. As she grows, Ren tells her transformational story as a reflection on her youth: growing and living as a human amongst humans, watching her father move back to China, leaving Ren and her mother in the home they all shared in Pennsylvania, finding what she believes is safety and real achievement in swimming, and finding nourishment in chlorine. Through clever turns of phrase and statements that pack a punch, readers are shown who Ren is rather than told, compelled forward, perhaps nervous about what is ahead but unable to look away.
VERDICT Like the scent of chlorine on one’s skin, this not-to-be-missed debut novel lingers.
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