Book Reviews

Book Review: Coral by Sara Ella

There is more than one way to drown.
Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans—emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light?
Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?
Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?
When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive, and Coral might even catch a prince in the process. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?
Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved—yet tragic—fairy tale, Coral explores mental health from multiple perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost

Title: Coral
Author: Sara Ella
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: Digital ARC
Publication Date: November 12th, 2019

4//5 Owls

Wow, this book is a really hard one to review because its a very character driven story, and more than that – its a story about characters that struggle with a lot of mental health issues. This is going to be an odd review – I can’t talk too much about the plot without giving away major spoilers, so its more of a quick character analysis.

The story focuses on a few characters that come together in unexpected ways; there’s the mermaid Coral who moves with her grandmother because she began experiencing the “Red Tide”, Brooke and her young friend Hope, who are staying at a treatment center, and Merrick, who is desperately holding himself together despite his parents and his sisters suicide attempts.

I was extremely confused as to how these characters relate to each other at first, something just didn’t add up correctly and I felt like I was missing something major. Maybe there was a chapter that got left out of my copy, or maybe i have a really old edition – but no, it all comes together eventually and once it does, every tiny detail makes sense, any my heart broke.

Coral is a mermaid turned human – which is kind of confusing until you “get it”, but her story is a sad one. Unwanted, dismissed from the family that is supposed to love her unconditionally, you just want to pick up the little mermaid and tell her how much she means to you.

Brooke and Hope were by far my favorite characters – Brooke struggled with being in yet another treatment center, balked at therapy, and preferred to keep her pain inside her. I saw a lot of myself in Brooke, and although i know everyones struggles with mental health are different, I could relate too and understand Brooke’s in a way that i dont usually get too. Then there’s her friend, the wonderful, heartbreaking, Hope. An eleven year old girl with pain beyond her years, Hope, for me, was the central character. She helps tie the different elements of the story together, and is always happy to be there for the people that need her – even though internally she struggles more than any of them.

Finally, there’s Merrick. I would have been happier if Merrick was just left out of the story completely, but I do understand his importance and the role he plays. Starting out as a love interest of Corals, Merrick develops into a central character – but I still wasn’t a fan. His relationship with his father and the decisions he makes in regards to his parents, are that of a spoiled brat. He’s consistently whining about “being told what to do”, you’re still a child Merrick, of course you get told what to do. He also makes a lot of poor decisions in regards to his sister Amaya, and although they all come with good intentions, they’re once again, the decisions of a spoiled whiny child.

The pacing of this story is s-l-o-w. There’s not too much of a plot at all actually, its more about the internal struggles and daily lives of the core group. So if you like lots of action and plot twists in stories, this may not be the one for you. But if you don’t mind character driven stories, or books that get very very real about mental health, than I highly recommend this book. It’s such a beautiful story and I was almost in tears when I finished it.

Coral is officially on sale November 12th!

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with this digital ARC. All opinions are my own.

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