Monday, March 15, 2021

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O'Neal


Her sister has been dead for fifteen years when she sees her on the TV news…

Josie Bianci was killed years ago on a train during a terrorist attack. Gone forever. It’s what her sister, Kit, an ER doctor in Santa Cruz, has always believed. Yet all it takes is a few heart-wrenching seconds to upend Kit’s world. Live coverage of a club fire in Auckland has captured the image of a woman stumbling through the smoke and debris. Her resemblance to Josie is unbelievable. And unmistakable. With it comes a flood of emotions—grief, loss, and anger—that Kit finally has a chance to put to rest: by finding the sister who’s been living a lie.

After arriving in New Zealand, Kit begins her journey with the memories of the past: of days spent on the beach with Josie. Of a lost teenage boy who’d become part of their family. And of a trauma that has haunted Kit and Josie their entire lives.

Now, if two sisters are to reunite, it can only be by unearthing long-buried secrets and facing a devastating truth that has kept them apart far too long. To regain their relationship, they may have to lose everything.

My Thoughts

This is a complicated book to review because there is a lot going on. The story is told from the perspectives of two sisters, Kit and Josie. Kit is an ER Doctor who sees her sister on the news one night when they're covering a story about a fire in a night club in New Zealand. But that can't be, because Josie is dead.

Kit's mother sees the same thing, and encourages her daughter to fly to New Zealand and search for Josie. So that's what Kit does. But there's a lot to uncover when she gets there and it becomes more complicated in more ways than one.

I'm not sure how to organize my thoughts on this book, so instead I'm going to go back to my trusty review outline and share 5 things that I think readers show know before checking out this book.

1. You need to Suspend your Disbelief

One of the first things I thought when I got into this story was why? Why is Kit flying to New Zealand to look for her dead sister when she just happened to see someone on tv who looked like her? It didn't make any sense to me. And it REALLY didn't make sense to me that her mother encouraged her to do it.

But you just have to roll with it. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a story, would there?

2. New Zealand Sounds Beautiful

I think that one of my favorite parts of this story was the travel and the descriptions. Kit's adventures just sounded so fun. Obviously she was there on a mission, but she had some fun along the way.  She's a big surfer and so it was cool that she got to surf and go to good restaurants and explore a little bit.

3. There are some tough subjects discussed in this Book

Kit and Josie grew up in a strange family setting. Their parents had a volatile relationship and they also owned a restaurant together. Their main concerns were the business and dealing with each other, so Josie and Kit were kind of on their own during early childhood, left to raise each other.

Both of them have childhood traumas, although Josie had it worse. As the older sister, she faced things that Kit didn't have to face. She did her best to take care of her younger sister and I found that really admirable. 

Trigger warning: They faced parental neglect, sexual abuse, natural disasters (earthquakes), death of parents and loved ones.

So yeah. They had a tough childhood.

4. I loved Kit's storyline

As I mentioned previously, I love that Kid got to go on this big adventure to the other side of the world. She got to stay in a hotel and go exploring and play detective, while trying to figure out if her sister was even alive, and if she was, where would she be? I love that she met a cool guy in her hotel and befriended him. I wasn't sure what to think of him at first but he was actually a good companion for her throughout the novel.

5. The Pacing was a Little too Slow for Me

I checked out this book from Kindle Unlimited and listened to the audiobook. I liked the audiobook and I thought the narrators were great, but the story just moved too slow int he beginning. Once Kit started finding clues and getting on the right path, it started picking up. But it took a while for me to really get into the story.

Have you read When We Believed In Mermaids? If so, what did you think? Let me know what you're currently reading in the comments section!

Read When We Believed in Mermaids
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xo Marian

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