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Welcome, friend! Relax & rest awhile, if you please. I'm an ordinary girl, a follower of Christ, mama to Gabriel, & wife to Evan. Here in this little space of the online world, I share all manner of bookish things, including full content reviews, writerly snippets, encouragement for everyday life, and a whole collection of names & their meanings.

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Book Review || Coral

Sara Ella

Thomas Nelson | November 12, 2019
Faerietales, Fiction, Contemporary, Young Adult

There is more than one way to drown.

Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans—emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light?

Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?

Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?

When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive, and Coral might even catch a prince in the process. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?

Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved—yet tragic—fairy tale, Coral explores mental health from multiple perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.

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WARNING: Spoilers!
I received an ARC of this book in a giveaway from the author.  :]

Please be conscious of the fact there ARE spoilers in this review!  If you do not wish to be spoiled in regards to plot content & story, please skip on to the conclusion, or pass over this review entirely.  ;D

{The Basics}
I mentioned this in my mini-review on Instagram, but WOW.  THIS BOOK.  It's been quite a while since I've read such a real-life, real issues, heart-wrencher of a story.  This novel touches deeply on some issues that many young people struggle with every day: Anxiety.  Depression.  Cyber bullies.  Suicidal thoughts.

The premise of this book follows the perspective of two girls and a young man---Coral, Brooke, & Merrick.  The writing style is well-written and dives deeply into their thoughts and personal struggles.  However, because of how it is written, I remained extremely confused throughout a good portion of the story and found it a little difficult to get into the plot.  I debated on saying why this was because it's a HUGE plot spoiler, but I believe it to be acceptable for those who don't mind knowing such things.  [SPOILER] So, that said, eventually the reader learns that Coral & Brooke are one & the same.  We discover that through the process of Brooke's healing from her trials of anxiety & depression, she uses a notebook to pour out her heart.  In doing so, and at the advice of a mentor, she creates the mermaid character Coral, who lives out her [Brooke's] life under the sea & deals with the same struggles as her writer.  This gives Brooke an outlet to the real things that plague her, but also allows a bit of anonymity in that the character is living a different world and experiencing the same things as she herself in regards to her mental, emotional, & family struggles.  And it's a completely unique take on Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid.

Merrick has struggles not entirely different to Brooke's.  He learns his little sister has had real problems for years and it's something his parents kept from him, hoping somehow to protect him (and Maya as well, I suppose).  Merrick & his father have always butted heads & never seem to get along.  All these years, he's seen his dad as the ultimate villain & the cause of what's happening to his family.  After Maya attempts suicide---at age 11---and he sees the scars on her arms, followed by the disappearance of their mother, Merrick takes things into his hands & tries to do what he truly believes is best for himself & his sister.  I saw this as quite honorable in how he finds a job & tries to care for his sister.  But in his blindness, things only begin to escalate, and he eventually learns just how badly communication in a family, and in life in general, is so needed.  

{Spiritual Content}
None.  That's one thing I really missed in a book that touches on such deep, sorrowful topics, but doesn't really point out to the One & ONLY Light that can shine brightest in the darkness.  Sure, there were several characters---the leader of the group home, Coral's grandmother, etc.---that were true lighthouses to those floundering in the seas of their doubts & fears.  But the story never really hinted on any subject of God & His saving faith.

That said, I can understand how YA novels these days without the label of "Christian genre" can reach out & touch so many more people than one with that category.  And maybe that was the purpose.  *shrugs*  I just found myself wishing for a certain Light in the Abyss.

A young woman commits suicide in the ocean's shallows.  Her younger sister witnesses this.  We read of the waters turning red.

As mentioned above, an 11-year old girl attempts suicide at least two different times, and [SPOILER] succeeds in the third attempt, to the sorrow of many.  We see bloody arms wrapped in bandages, and a tub filled with water mixed with blood in another scene.

Another character runs away from a group home and towards the ocean that seems to be calling her.  We see it's her intention to die, but she is later rescued.

{Language // Alcohol & Drugs}
None that I recall.

A young girl overdoses.

{Romantic Content}
Merrick, at the demand of his father, takes a girl on a date in the family limo.  How she's dressed doesn't leave much for the imagination & it's not long before they are making out in the back seat.  He tries to curb his thoughts, but every shift of her legs & the mini skirt riding up her thighs---though he does his best not to notice---is too difficult to ignore.

To him, Nikki is a means to an end for his father's business, and something that brings temporary pleasure (though it doesn't go further than a make-out session. . .).  But when Merrick meets another girl, he wants to be her everything, and is super cautious about giving her the space she needs & trying to be an honorable, respecting gentleman.  They kiss at least once or twice.

All in all, this was a great novel.  And a good, albeit difficult, story for this day & age.  In my opinion, because everyone's life struggles are different, I didn't feel as drawn to the main characters as I normally do.  I ended up loving the secondary characters more---Grim + Nikki are the CUTEST.  I admired the Fathoms group home staff, and I LOVED the unconditional love that Brooke's grandmother showed to her time & time again.  If anything, she was the epitome of the love of God & how He chases after His beloved children.

So, in conclusion to yet another lengthy review, I really liked this novel, but not sure it'll honestly be one I choose for a reread.  HOWEVER, that doesn't mean YOU shouldn't add this to your TBR.  And I believe this would be an excellent novel to give to someone struggling with emotional/mental issues of any kind---at the right time, of course.

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Ages: 14-16+


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