At 13, Jade has a lot to deal with: she’s still getting over her mother’s drowning death a year ago, she just got her first period, and she might have a crush on a guy who surely thinks she’s weird. But nothing prepares her for what happens when she takes a warm bath in salt water to ease her period cramps. For it is then that Jade turns from a normal teenager with average concerns into a freaked-out girl with a mermaid’s tale.
Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings by Hèléne Boudreau is at turns light-hearted and serious as it explores how Jade’s life evolves along with her ability to walk on two legs. On the one hand, Jade and her dad discuss mermaid legends and try to find out how she can go to school, be with her friends and appear normal in her everyday life. On the other, Jade discovers something about her mother’s drowning accident that points to a dark side of the mermaid life.
While at times Jade seems more like 16 than 13, for the most part her tale is fun to follow. Part comedy, part adventure, part fantasy and part mystery, it’s entirely a story to enjoy. I recommend it for girls aged nine to 13.