Ellen Schreiber's Teenage Mermaid
Ellen Schreiber introduces us to Spencer, a 15-year-old surfer dude who is currently drowning. While he sinks deeper into the ocean, (with some pretty coherent thoughts for someone who’s dying, I might add!) he’s saved by a beautiful girl. This girl is described in a way that’s bordering on silly: “golden yellow and sun-fire orange hair…wonderful pink-lipped smile…angelic skin…and piercing ocean-blue eyes.” Spencer comes to on the beach, alive and unsure if what happened really happened or if it was all a dream…until he opens his hand and sees the girl’s locket. DUN DUN DUN!
In the next chapter, you meet Waterlilly, a 15-year-old mermaid who just doesn’t feel like she fits in. She’s flighty, getting low grades at school when she bothers to show up and is obsessed with ‘Earthees.’ This obsession stems from a story about her great-grandfather, who was supposedly an Earthee who fell in love with Lilly’s great-grandmother, a mermaid. They had true love’s kiss and he turned into a merman – very intriguing for a young girl yearning to be in love. The locket Spencer now has was Lilly’s great-grandfather’s and Lilly will be in big trouble if her mother finds out it’s gone.
Lilly spills the whole story about meeting the ‘Earthdude’ (no really, that’s what she calls him) to her BFF, Waverly. Lilly describes Spencer to her friend, and his description also seems a bit on the silly side, as Lilly sighs over his “deep-red clay-colored hair…chiseled jaw and soft melt-worthy lips.” Now, I remember the boys in my high school and none of the 15-year-olds had anything close to what could be called a chiseled jaw. But hey, this is fiction, right?
The story continues with Spencer looking for Lilly to thank her and return her necklace and with Lilly needing to get her necklace back in order to stay out of trouble, she decides to go down to the depths of the ‘Underworld’ where all kinds of bad characters stray, including a…sea witch! Man, this sounds familiar. Lilly barters with Madame Pearl to get a potion to get legs to be human for a day. Did I mention that Lilly gets to this Underworld by way of dolphin? And that dolphin’s name is Bubbles? Cause yep, that happens.
Lilly and Spencer meet up after a crazy day of Lilly trying out school and enjoy an afternoon on the pier and another soulful kiss, as Spencer is “so different…from every soul [Lilly] had ever encountered. [Lilly] felt a connection without…sharing words, a connection just sharing space.” Oh man, intense! Lilly rushes off to return to the ocean and Spencer is left behind. Cue another day and another visit to the sea witch, where you find out Madame Pearl went through the same thing Lilly did but didn’t go back to the man she loved. Lilly knows Spencer is her soulmate and Madame Pearl gives her another potion free of charge. I won’t spoil the ending, but c’mon! You know it ends happily.
Teenage Mermaid may not be the most intellectually challenging for tween readers, but it certainly rings with a truth. The intensity that Spencer and Lilly feel for each other reminds me of my own high school relationships. There’s no dating or getting to know each other, just right away being together and being in love. Immature? Yes. Silly? Of course. Does it feel true? Absolutely. So, pick up Teenage Mermaid. It’s a great way to get a few giggles and a nostalgic smile or two.