Mermaid by Jodi Picoult
Published by Kindle in Motion
Published on: July 25 2017
Genres: Magical Realism
Amazon | GoodReads
There’s always more beneath the surface.
Once, Hope Payne was a mermaid, performing at the local theme park and captivating audiences young and old.
Today, she’s married to a pragmatic marine biologist who has filled the pool in their backyard with flounder for a special study. Before he begins, the fish vanish—echoing a loss Hope alone can understand. She senses there’s something underwater, something alive and hungry for more, but is she in too deep to ever resurface?
New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult’s “Mermaid” is a spellbinding short story about the sacrifice it takes to swim again.
I’ve never read Picoult before THE MERMAID, and the only reason I did this time is b/c of my recent fascination with Kindle in Motion.
No offense meant if you’re a Picoult fan, but I’m a very specific kind of escapist reader: the kind that ultimately wants to be happy. I don’t mind a reasonable number of obstacles on the way to that happiness, but I absolutely do not want to be miserable b/c inevitable tragedy circling like a shark.
So there are certain books that I refuse to read. Books like THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (two teenagers with cancer fall in love, what could go wrong?) and MY SISTER’S KEEPER. My reluctance to read these types of books is so great that it isn’t unusual for my avoidance of the book to evolve into an avoidance of the author altogether.
They’ve shown what they’re capable of, and now they cannot be trusted . . . *backs slowly away so as not to attract the attention of cruel and unpredictable author*
But Kindle in Motion. And MERMAIDS. And how much damage can be done in forty pages?
Then there’s the fact that it’s almost certainly her lowest rated work, plagued by WTF? reviews from her longtime fans, both of which are signs that I might actually like it (b/c contrary). #sorrynotsorry
But before I get to story itself, I want to talk about my first Kindle in Motion book for adults.
When I posted my Bookfessional on enhanced reading a couple weeks ago, I was surprised by how many people responded negatively—I mean, pretty pictures that move, guys. What’s not to like?—But more than half the comments were against it. Too many distractions, fun for kids, but leave us grownups alone, etc.
After reading THE MERMAID, I have to say that I agree.
Firstly, it’s much easier to animate quality illustrations in a children’s book than it is to film quality content for adult books. The graphics from the fairytales in which I first encountered KiM were lovely and material-appropriate. They were a natural embellishment to the reader experience, and I very much enjoyed it. In contrast, the video clips from THE MERMAID were cornball and low budget, and I absolutely could have done without them.
Not only that, but where I initially appreciated the beachy and/or ocean-themed backdrops for the actual words, when I went to highlight something, the combination of highlight and background picture made for difficult-to-read highlights, which kind of defeats the purpose:
So that’s a problem.
As for the book itself . . . It’s surprisingly good. It’s weird, but I primarily read speculative fiction anyway, so weird is my normal. That being said, this was not my usual weird.
The story is about a woman named Hope who has recently experienced a tragedy. Under any circumstances, what she went through is difficult, but in this particular scenario . . . View Spoiler »I’m not much for personal anecdotes of the painful variety, but I went through something similar right after my husband and I got married.
We got pregnant . . . I wasn’t ready . . .
Never having lost a child that I’d deliberately made, I can’t say that one experience is worse than the other, but I can say that when you aren’t sure you want it to begin with . . . the guilt experienced afterward . . .
I didn’t end up in treatment like Hope did, but it was a dark time. « Hide Spoiler
If you don’t care to be spoiled, let’s just say that I am intimately acquainted with Hope’s situation, and I can vouch for the authenticity of the emotional aftermath.
Perhaps it’s the firsthand knowledge that made the ending so many others are calling pointless, particularly affecting, but I don’t think so. I think I’d get the analogy even without the accompanying illustration. View Spoiler »I’m also not much for disparaging the reader experience of others, but COME ON. How obtuse do you have to be to not see the implicit hope of a reference to future growth coming from someone who recently lost child? « Hide Spoiler
That’s another problem with the aforementioned books I avoid: the pain is so obvious that you don’t have to think for yourself. You don’t have to explore your own feelings; you’ve been attacked by that ever circling shark, and it hurts. The end.
But there’s more than just the hopeful note a seemingly hopeless story ended with (View Spoiler »bloody hell, that woman is clever « Hide Spoiler). It’s how quickly she managed to do it. I repeat, this was a forty page short story. In just forty pages, Picoult managed to create a scenario so devoid the thing our heroine was named for that I felt a flash a anger when View Spoiler »her attempt to give herself to her freaky pool failed.
When I realized what she was going to do, I felt a rightness, a, yes, please, god, let this poor woman’s agony be over.
And didn’t it seem like everything in her life had been leading up to that very end? « Hide Spoiler
Then she turned it all around in a single page.
I think I may have underestimated Ms. Picoult. I think there may be more to her than expert manipulation of grief. I’m not saying I’ll ever read MY SISTER’S KEEPER, but I may have to look into her other works.
SO. Highly recommended despite the low-budget film antics, etc. If for no other reason, read it to see what the hype is about.
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