Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lost Voices, by Sarah Porter--Review

Harcourt Books, ISBN 9780547482507, 304pp., July 4, 2011

Lucette is living with her uncle in a tiny Alaskan fishing village after the death of her father. Grief for her father and her uncle's abuse has her silent, lonely, and isolated. Her only friend is a mentally disabled boy whom no one else, not even his own family, has any patience for.

Then, on her fourteenth birthday, Luce's uncle ratchets his abuse up one more unspeakable level, and she flees to the cliffs, falls--and finds herself in a strange, new, underwater world. She has become a mermaid. After the years spent traveling with her loving but thieving father, and the months trapped in a tiny village with her abusive uncle, Luce is thrilled to find a community she truly belongs to, where she starts to make friends and where her beautiful singing voice gives her real status. There's a catch, though; the mermaids use their singing to lure ships onto the rocks, and then make sure everyone drowns. Luce wants to fit in with her new friends, the only friends she's ever had, but she also tries to cling to her humanity--and that creates an awful and dangerous conflict, within herself, and with the other mermaids.
     This is a touching coming of age story, with characters who should be recognizable to any girl who ever attended junior high. Porter takes these girls and their problems, strengths, and flaws seriously, and portrays a believable conflict between community and individual morality.
     Warning: This is the first book of a trilogy. The immediate story is resolved, but there's a larger arc that remains open.
     Highly recommended.

     I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley..