Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review: Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreau

Green Bean Teen Queen hosts a meme on Tuesdays called Tween Tuesday where great books for tweens are featured. This Tuesday, I am going to feature a book that, while categorized as YA, seems better suited to tweens: Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings, by Helene Boudreau.

Click here for more of my Tween Tuesday posts.

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreau
Release Date: November 9, 2010
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Pages: 206

Received: Library
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads Page


From Goodreads: 

Freak of nature takes on a whole new meaning...

If she hadn't been so clueless, she might have seen it coming. But really, who expects to get into a relaxing bathtub after a stressful day of shopping for tankinis and come out with scales and a tail?

Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever.

Jade soon discovers she inherited her mermaid tendencies from her mom. But if Mom was a mermaid, how did she drown? Jade is determined to find out. So how does a plus-size, aqua-phobic mer-girl go about doing that exactly? And how will Jade ever be able to explain her secret to her best friend, Cori, and to her crush, Luke?

This summer is about to get a lot more interesting...


This was a cute book, but definitely should be categorized as MG instead of YA. Jade is 14, but her voice and situation read much more like she is in middle school. While the story is cute, I think YA readers may find themselves a little bored and unable to fully connect with Jade. Some MG books are written in such a way as to appeal to all ages, but I don’t really think that is the case with Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings.

I liked Jade and found her to be a very sympathetic character. Her emotions are clear and easy to relate to, but her voice is a little uneven. Sometimes she is charmingly sarcastic, but other times this wryness is completely absent or just a little off. As a YA character, I’d say this is somewhat uneven writing. On the other hand, as a MG character her indecision and wavering between an innocent young girl and the hint of teenager snarkiness makes perfect sense.

I think MG girls, especially those in similar situations as Jade (sans the mermaid parts) will really enjoy this book. In addition to the mermaid parts, Jade deals with a first crush, getting her first period, troubles with her friend, and learning to adjust to life without her mom. Her troubles are so typical and her emotions and the way she handles these problems will resonate well with MG girls.     

What I liked about the book is that Jade’s parents both play a significant role in the story. I went into the book expecting a fluffy romance, and while there is a little romance, it takes a back seat to Jade’s relationship with her parents. The only thing that bugged me about this was that Jade sometimes seemed like more of the adult, but the whole book is so light and fluffy it’s hard to really be bothered.

The story was sweet, but simple with all of the conflicts finding fairly easy solutions. I think YAs might find things a little *too* simple and easy, but MG readers probably won’t mind. I tried to find a rating that reflects the disconnect between the book’s YA categorization and how it would be as a MG book. As a YA book, I would rate this lower than a 3.5 because it really is too shallow. As a MG book, I would probably give it a 4.
 Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key  

This book satisfies the following challenges:

Looking for more mermaid stories? You might like: 
Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs


  1. Sounds like a cute book. And I think you're right, there are certain character points that I tolerate a lot more from an MG character than a teenager.

    Thanks for the review,

  2. This sounds like a cute, little book. I think mermaids, and I think of the movie Aquamarine. Hum, I don't know why. Good review though.

  3. Hey, thanks so much for replying to my blogging questions, it means so much to me, and your advice/opinions are very valuable.
    I've managed to buy a new domain, bookcouture.com (using my own money), and am going to write shorter, but better reviews. I've also got a few list posts in the works.
    I'm so appreciative of your comment!

    In response to this post, I have never read a mermaid book, and after reading your review, I'm definitely going to take your advice and steer clear, because I'm more into YA than MG. Thanks!

    Happy reading,

  4. Great review! I like that the parents played an important part in the story. I always love a good mermaid story :)

  5. Great review! This one sounds a little young for my mood these days but I think I'll recommend it to my cousin based on your review.

  6. I just reviewed Monster High by Lisi Harrison, and came to the same conclusion. It seemed geared a little younger than what it was marketed as.

    "Jade deals with a first crush, getting her first period, troubles with her friend, and learning to adjust to life without her mom."
    All of those things sound like middle-grade concerns, especially getting her first period!

    I can't decide if I like the cover or not. I like the bathtub drain, and the hands reaching down for the tail. I wish the tail flukes were bigger or more fancy, though. I love mermaids.

  7. I have yet to read this book but it does sound good. I love the whole mermaid concept so I may give it a try.

  8. Sounds like a cute read! I will add it to the MG list I've made for gift-giving purposes! :)

  9. I'm so glad you realized the audience this novel was written for and corrected that it was written for MG instead of YA though you might be surprised at how low some YA reading levels are these days. I often think reviewers forget the age level these YA/MG books are written for and evaluate them on and adult level. Thanks for remembering these aren't adult novels!


  10. I'll probably pass on this one just because I think it might be a little too young for me, but it does sound really cute. I like that her parents are a main part of the story, that's not usually the case with a lot of YA books! Nice review as always:)

  11. I always like it when the parents play an important role in the story. Too often in YA books parents are portrayed as the enemy or are missing in action. Great review! This book sounds a little too young for my tastes though, so I think I'll have to pass.

  12. A plus-sized mermaid?! FTW!

    How have I not read this tail.. er. tale?

    Yeah, it does sounds MG. And with more and more YA stories completely missing the bus on parental involvement, this sounds like a refreshing change. Will add it to my wishlist. Thanks Smalls!

  13. I think it's interesting why publishers put certain novels in certain categories. I wish I knew more about it.

  14. Sounds cute, but not for me. You said exactly what I was thinking: some MG books can be read and loved at all ages and others, not so much. Still, thanks for the review!

  15. l totally agree about some books are too simple for YA. l felt that about a few books l have read! Thanks for the review.

  16. I kinda want to read this one!

    But I do agree with you as far as labeling books for certain audiences. Thanks for sharing the review!

    Asher K.

  17. I have to agree, I thought this one was better suited to a MG audience than YA. A lot of the issues the protagonist faces are more for the preteen/young teen set, as is the feel of the voice. I can see how it might be difficult to rate it taking this into consideration!

  18. Alex, Good to know I’m not alone there. Not to sound condescending, because I really don’t mean it that way, but I think younger readers don’t require as much depth or logic in their books. I know I didn’t. :P

    AngelicNytmare, I think of Aquamarine too! I loved that movie.

    Tina, You’re welcome! I’m glad you found my response helpful. If you like YA but want to read mermaid, I really enjoyed Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs.

    Nic, Me too, on both counts.

    A Canadian Girl, Thanks! I hope your cousin enjoys it.

    Madigan, I was wondering about Monster High, especially since I thought The Clique was closer to MG than YA. The flukes would have been prettier if they were more elaborate, but I think they fit the character nicely. The drain is from a scene in the book too.

    Savannah, It was a cute book. I think as long as you know it’s younger in tone, then you should enjoy it.

    Leanna, Your gift recipients sound like some lucky MGers!

    Heather, I am surprised! This is the second YA book I’ve read this month that I think is better suited for MG. It’s hard to rate a book based on age, especially when I’m so far outside the intended age group. I do try though, so thank you!

    Jenny and Laura, I liked that about the parents too. Even though the book has a case of “dead mother syndrome” the mom is in the book a lot more than most YA books!

    Missie, Yup, I was so happy when I read she was a plus-sized girl. It was mentioned a little in the book, but not overly much. It was nice because it didn’t define her, it was just a part of her. It’s also really funny, at the end of the story there’s a recipe for a chocolate mug cake and the MC says something like this: “This recipe is supposed to serve two (but, yeah right, whatever)” That part in parentheses was exactly what I was thinking, and I think most everyone can relate. :P The recipe looks awesome too.

    Lisa, I really wish I knew more about it too. Usually it works out ok, but there have been a few instances where I think the publishers have messed up big time. I wonder why they made those decisions.

    Aylee, You’re welcome. :) I really love the MG books that all ages can enjoy. It’s great when you can have a book that you loved as a kid and it still holds up even when you’re an adult.

    Books for Company, You’re welcome. I like to think (hope!) that YAs want something a little more complex and deeply formed.

    A Knight. It is a cute story. If it looks good to you then go for it! That’s why I read it and I’m glad I did.

    Danya, Ah good, I’m going to have to read your review again. I’m glad you mentioned the feel of the voice. I wasn’t sure if I was making any sense there!

  19. Well, oddly enough, as a full grown adult, I enjoy both genres. So, I guess this book would be something I'd enjoy reading.

    Never heard of it until reading this review. You did a nice job with it. I think I'll add it to my ever growning TBR list. The cover is exceptional! :-)

  20. I'm odd with you :) I hope you enjoy it.


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