And Then I Turned into A Mermaid – Laura Kirkpatrick

Laura Steven’s (writing as Laura Kirkpatrick) Middle Grade debut is a riot of all the messy, silly but inherently important things in a regular unpopular 13 year olds life but with the added pressure of being a mermaid to complicate things.

Book cover for And Then I turned into a Mermaid

Mollie Seabrook lives with her mum and 4 sisters in a dilapidated Lighthouse at the end of the pier in the fictional northern coastal town of Little Marmouth.

If that wasn’t weird enough her mum runs the fish and chip shop and makes the old enough sisters work there to save money. Bullied at school saying the Seabrook girls smell of chips and frying oil Mollie dreams of joining the Populars and getting the attention and affections of Fit Steve but nothing really seems to change.

However, it only gets worse when her best friend Ava pals up with the Populars AND on her 13th Birthday Mollie gets the news that she happens to be Half-mermaid and it’s a struggle to keep her land legs around water.

There will come a time when you’re grateful for the things that make you stand out. Trust me. Until then you just have to weather the storm.

This is such a fab book for that age group who have hit secondary school and are supposed to not believe in such things anymore, are pressured to give up all the things that make them unique to fit in to a narrow prescription of cool and popular and to castigate those that choose not to ascribe to these rules.

Mollie struggles, she hopes, she Daydreams and she loses her temper at the utter unfairness of it all and Laura Kirkpatrick/Steven is honest, so honest about what it is like to be a just turned teenage girl on that cusp of grown up expectations and clinging to the playfulness and exuberance of childhood- the equal interest in lipstick and crushes against chocolate buttons and bodily functions.

It was nice to have something connecting them. They were all such different people, and this was a common thread between them. Molly already felt closer to them somehow.

The sisterly relationships are beautiful, I’m not lucky enough to have any sisters but if my girls have half the affection these five do for each other that’s a great start even if Tinyfae has an awful habit of boshing Littlefae over the head for stealing her Care Bears.

And I loved the acceptance of each other even if they struggle with accepting themselves, the things they discover about biggest sister Myla is recognised that they cannot tease her, and equally Margot’s apathy to relationships Mollie deals with compassionately. These are great girls to aspire to even with all the pranks and poop!

And yes it’s great to see girls of this age not getting all fussy about bodily functions, except in front of Fit Steve Of course is so great for breaking down taboos and tropes of what feminine means, especially those that bring girls shame.

Molly’s mind races. Surely, surely she was dreaming. And yet when she bit down hard on her tongue, she didn’t wake up. Her chest pounded, and her breathing grew quicker and quicker as she tried to fight back the tide of panic.

I also love the fact that despite being mermaids there is no magic wand, no treasure uncovered to make them rich and not have to work the chip shop anymore. So many people have a time in their life when things don’t go their way and the panic rises, but learning that life knocks you down, sideways and for six, but it’s how you get back up again and keep fighting and making a new normal that is success.

Mollie learns that time is short and you have to have belief in yourself, invest in the people who fill you up and treasure the moments you have because they are too quickly gone and changed. She builds a new normal, it’s not perfect but she’s making the most of it.

And that is a wonderful message. Looking forward to more.

And Then I turned into A Mermaid by Laura Kirkpatrick is published by Egmont.

4 thoughts on “And Then I Turned into A Mermaid – Laura Kirkpatrick

    1. It’s very contemporary with a magic twist- certainly great to recommend to those who want a bit of sass with their contemporary or who aren’t quite ready to give up magic but are too cool to read fantasy!!

      Liked by 1 person

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