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Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Twins on Thursday: Tides by Betsy Cornwell


"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Tides
Author: Betsy Cornwell
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publishing House: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 9780547927725
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher via NetGalley


When high-school senior Noah Gallagher and his adopted teenage sister, Lo, go to live with their grandmother in her island cottage for the summer, they don't expect much in the way of adventure. Noah has landed a marine biology internship, and Lo wants to draw and paint, perhaps even vanquish her struggles with bulimia. But then things take a dramatic turn for both when Noah mistakenly tries to save a mysterious girl from drowning. This dreamlike, suspenseful story - deftly told from multiple points of view - dives deeply into selkie folklore while examining the fluid nature of love and family.


While staying in their grandmother's house for the summer, Noah and Lo's grandmother tell them stories of selkies. But as enchanting as these stories are, Noah and Lo believe them to be nothing more but stories, mere myth and folklore. Mara, a headstrong young selkie, has been warned against heading onto shore, humans are dangerous and can't be trusted. They're greedy and they want nothing more to get their hands on their precious skins. But when they unwittingly meet, their lives will forever be changed, bound by the intricacies of love and pain and family.

Tides is told in alternating points of view, mostly Noah, Mara and Lo. We're fairly surprised at how well the author managed to shift voices, each character had a distinct voice and there was no trouble getting to know them. Noah is a protective big brother, ambitious and maybe a bit introverted. He loves marine biology and with the opportunity that this summer's internship brings, he's determined to prove himself. Lo is an artist who suffers from bulimia, she thought that her stay in her grandmother's house would be a good thing for her, but it's not really helping and she doesn't really know what to do. Mara is a selkie, she's fascinated by humans and confused by her longing for a friend. She's not supposed to go onto land but she can't help it, the land holds endless curiosities and fascination for her and so when she has free time, she sneaks off towards the shore and she watches. 

The romance was something that caught us off-guard because of how quickly things sped up. As much as Mara found humans interesting, we don't think she was prepared enough when she had a personal encounter with one of them, much less quickly fall for a guy even as sweet and adorkably awkward as Noah. We think the more interesting aspect of the book here was how Cornwell combined different real life issues in the book. Usually, authors only make use of one or two themes to bring the story together. But what Cornwell did was to combine the fresh and unexpected approach to homosexual relationships (which is not as much as falling in love with a gender, as people take it, but just falling for the totality of the person, irregardless of gender), issues centering on body image, unconventional romance. The passion that Noah has for marine biology is truly amazing, and the characters really made us feel like they were actual people, but the problem with Tides is that we felt that there was something lacking about it. 

If you're in a summer resort somewhere or planning your beachside getaway, you might want to check out Tides. It's just in time for the summer vibes because it's light enough for a quick read, and a quick daydream or fantasy about what really lurks beneath the aqua-blue shadows of the deep.


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