Book Review: The Mermaid of Brooklyn

The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn

I was sent a review copy of this title by the fine folks at Simon & Schuster - and isn't that a great cover to pull you in? :-)

Jenny Lipkin is a tugged-in-too-many-directions stay at home mom with a toddler with a penchant for biting and a still-nursing baby to care for - and a husband who says he's going out for cigarettes one evening.

And doesn't return.

The rest of this novel is how Jenny copes with his sudden departure from their Park Slope apartment, swirling in all the despair, exhaustion, and loss that goes with caring for two little ones on her own. Shearn does a masterful job of making the reader - especially childless me! - truly feel Jenny's absolute exhaustion, and that she's indeed lost her way from former magazine editor to nothing more than a pack mule, milk cow and vague human being during a sticky New York summer.

When Jenny can't seem to take anymore, when she's truly DONE, she finds an unlikely ally in her moment of despair - a mermaid.

I know, it sounds silly, but Shearn truly makes this spark of magic work - so much is left in the hands of the reader to interpret that one can read as much, or as little, into the mermaid as the reader wishes, I think.

I personally loved the mermaid aspect, and how well Shearn depicts life in a corner of New York City - something so foreign to me - as well as the friends and more-than-friends Jenny finds along the way. The writing is witty and sharp, and the pages just flow by for the reader, until they too are sitting on a blanket in Prospect Park. My only criticism is that the story seemed to lose steam towards the end for me, limping along a bit until tying things up for Jenny and her children - it just needed a bit more forward momentum to me...

Overall, though, this is a great read for all the heroic mothers out there who could sympathize, and who sometimes feel they need a touch of magic to make it through. :-)

This title will be released on April 2.

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