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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Daughters of the Sea: Hannah" by Kathryn Lasky (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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Introduction: Ever since I saw the movie Splash, the romantic comedy involving a man who falls in love with a mermaid only he doesn't know it's a mermaid, when I was little, I was fascinated by mermaids. To top it all off, there's Disney's the Little Mermaid and all those movies too. So when I heard about a new series of teen books involving a group of mermaid sisters who grow up in different lives only to be faced with a decision; to live on land or the sea, I was instantly drawn to the series.

Overview: Hannah has grown up in turn of the century Boston where she has been living in an orphanage since a very early age. Hannah isn't like all the other girls in the orphanage, she enjoys the ocean and being close to the waves. At 15 the girls are "passed" out of the orphanage and assigned jobs throughout Boston. However Hannah is deemed unsuitable for any jobs within the area and is instead placed on a train to Kansas. It's here that Hannah starts noticing something is different about her. As she moves further from the ocean, her skin starts to flake into crystals and she becomes ill.

Hannah returns to Boston and is sent to work in the prestigious families household as a household maid. While working as a maid she learns more about what makes her different from other girls: a ring of salt lines the bathtub after her baths, and she is beginning to notice scale like skin on her legs. Soon a choice must be made, Hannah must choose between living on land or living in the sea as a mermaid.

Daughters of the Sea: Hannah is the first book in a series of books about three daughters of the sea who each live different lives, but all must face a choice of living on land or the sea.

Analysis: Daughters of the Sea: Hannah is a lovely YA book geared especially for girls. Kathryn Lasky's writing style is very descriptive and captivating. However, this novel is something that if you are going in expecting a story that has a lot of focus on mermaids, readers might be disappointed.

While the series of books does deal with the choice a young woman must make to either live on land or in the sea as a mermaid. The focus of the book is more turn of the century life and having Hannah learn very slowly about the changes that are happening to her. Almost 2/3rds of the book is devoted to describing various experiences that Hannah has in the household as a servant. While entertaining to a point, having the majority of the focus on this life does make it appear that the book is a little deceptive. There really is very little time devoted to the mermaid part of Hannah. When she does encounter a part of being a mermaid it's pushed aside and never really answered.

There are a lot of interesting story lines that really start to pick up in the last part of the book, and the last part is really what saved the book for myself. While I enjoyed reading about Hannah's life in the orphanage and her being a maid, it's was the plots that started to develop

Taking into account that there is an intended series of books, I can only hope that the mermaid aspect of the book will be explored further in future installments of the novel. This series has potential and is on my radar, to see what happens. There are a lot of plot lines left open in this book that I'm hoping will be answered in future installments.

One of the aspects is that I'd like explored more is that of the mysterious painter. Hannah

There are a lot of questions that I came upon while reading that weren't answered in this novel but I'm hoping will be either expanded upon or explained in the future. Who is Hannah really? Where did she come from? Why was she on land when she was young? Is the transformation from human to mermaid only when she reaches "adulthood" or was she a mermaid when she was little? What is life like as a mermaid?

Although there is a lot of directions this story could take there is a lot that could be said about Kathryn Lasky's writing style. Readers can tell that a lot of research went into looking into life in the turn of the century. There is a lot of reality in how basic life is lived in the novel, and really puts the reader right in the heart of Boston at that time. Lasky seems to have a skill that pulls readers in and really makes them feel a part of the novel. Whether it's the realistic setting or her descriptive nature of the smells and sounds of ocean, she really has a talent that almost anyone can appreciate.

In the end, Daughters of the Sea: Hannah is a great start to a series that has a lot of potential. There's a lot of different ways that this series can go, and I'll be keeping an eye out for the second book. If readers go in knowing what to expect (a lot of descriptive nature and a set up to another book) they won't be disappointed. Although I would have liked there to be a lot more mermaid involvement, that is something I'm hoping will be explored in another novel. at about halfway that really kicked the book up a couple of notches. encounters a young painter who seems to know her secret life. This is touched upon a little bit but readers never get the full story on this mysterious painter. I'd love to learn a little more about who he is or what happened to him.


Harry Markov: daydream said...

Ah, I was really hoping that the spotlight and focus fell on the mermaid aspects, but alas I think I will pass. I want a good mermaid story, because more or less I am a water loving person and sea creatures of myth always captivated me.

Cindy said...

That's what I was hoping for. I was all excited for a mermaid story and there is still room for it to turn into that in future books but I felt like it just ended right when she really knew she was a mermaid. :(

Of course I'll be keeping an eye on the other books and let you know what happens with it!

The whole description of it being a book of 3 sisters finding out they are mermaids, while it might be true of the whole series in a whole, there is no mention of any other sisters in this book. So I'm a tiny bit confused as to where this is going.

rachelhestondavis said...

I've been meaning to read this one, and now I really must. Though I am a bit disappointed at the apparent lack of mermaid in this mermaid story, I'm intrigued by the concept of how a young girl would come to decide that she is one. I mean, that's not the usual conclusion when you feel something is wrong with you. :)

And, of course, it's the beloved Underdog Orphan story. I don't care how many times I hear that tale, it never gets old.

Rachel Heston Davis
Up and Writing

Cindy said...

Well she doesn't see crystals and go "Oh I'm a mermaid" ;). But she does learn very slowly and start to think there's a connection. I'd love to hear what you think.

I too was disappointed by the lack of mermaid but I'm hoping there's more in future installments.

Anonymous said...

I think she should be with Stannish Wheeler

madelon said...

when is the next book coming out???? i loved hannah

Anonymous said...

I cannot wait for "May" to be realeased does anyone know when?

Cindy said...

May comes out March 1, 2011. Of course things could change but that's the temp date set by Scholastic.

Anonymous said...

i read the second book first on accident. So now i am reading the first book of this is not as good as the second one.i am on page 201.

Anonymous said...

i read the second one first good thing i did because i wouldnt still be reading my firat reading seris of books.

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