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Coral by Sara Ella


by Sara Ella

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283606,022 (3.5)None
The worlds of Coral, Brooke, and Merrick, teens wounded by mental illness and family problems, collide and they must choose what to leave behind in order to survive and start fresh.



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DNF at 10%

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

"The colors made sounds and the sounds created colors."

I had a really hard time with Coral from the start. I love losing myself in new worlds, but everything about this book was perplexing. I felt like this story followed a different set of rules, but had no idea what they were. Coral can see sounds and hear colors (synesthesia, I think), but her explanations only furthered my confusion. She said certain colors were loud, but never seemed overwhelmed by them. How is that possible? She's surrounded by color, so wouldn't everything make noise? Like, all the time? Did she not suffer from sensory overload?

"The bedclothes were ruffled and her pillow slept in the sand."

How?? She's underwater, she has a tail, so wouldn't her clothing just be wet all the time? Also, how does one wear bedclothes over fins and whatnot? Was it just a t-shirt, or...?? How do they make clothes underwater? What are they made of? I needed more details!

"Jordan rolled her eyes, crossed to the heavy chamber door carved from old ship wood, and shut it."

Wouldn't the wood deteriorate underwater over time? How did they salvage the material for a door? When I read this sentence, I immediately pictured rotting wood that was soft and mushy.

"Coral freed the bubbles she’d been holding as she examined herself in the mirror."

Does she have gills? Lungs? Coral said they weren't allowed above the surface until they were sixteen, so... ??

"Easy as a kelp pie.”

"Coral’s mouth bowed and her insides turned to jellyfish. She didn’t want Jordan to go, despite how she tended to get under Coral’s scales more often than not."

They don't associate with humans, so why did they have pie specifically? I know it might be nitpicking at this point, but I felt like the author was trying too hard to make correlations between her world and common phrases we use today, which made the story ring false. Her insides turned to jellyfish?? I wish the author had created a language that had terms specific to her characters and the world she created.

I really wanted to see how Coral used merpeople to discuss mental health, but I barely made it through two of the three perspectives. I gave up when Merrick's chapter started, so I can't really comment on his portion of the story. However, I can comment on how Brooke was a very antagonistic and vexing character. She was in a treatment program, but doesn't share why or how she got there. I'm sure this was done to add suspense to her story, but it made her unlikable and unrelatable. She was callous and cruel to a child because she felt bad, and I thought her actions were that of a spoiled brat, and not someone suffering from a mental health issue. We don't know anything about her, so it was hard to sympathize with her feelings and actions.

Side note: I'm not saying Brooke should be likable or friendly, but the lack of information made it hard to understand her. I don't suffer from mental health issues, so I cannot comment on how people with them should be portrayed, but I do know how her character came across and can share those feelings with you.

Coral's community deals with something called "the Disease" that impacts a mermaid's emotional state, and they are shamed for experiencing anything other than cool disinterest. It really bothered me that only merwomen suffered from this "affliction," because it made it seem like mermen couldn't be emotional or depressed. Anyone suffering from "the Disease" was written off and ignored, and I haaated that aspect of this book.

Needless to say, this book wasn't a good fit. I was confused, frustrated, and disinterested in the overall story, which was not a good combination for enjoyable reading. I liked the concept, and I can appreciate what the author was trying to do, but it really missed the mark for me.

Originally posted at Do You Dog-ear? on December 12, 2019. ( )
  doyoudogear | Dec 12, 2019 |
This book isn't the Ariel retelling that I thought it would be. At least, I was happy to see most of these topics handled very well. The portrayal of mental illness treatment centers, for example, was completely accurate.
For Coral (a merperson), her society treats all emotions as diseases, and she and her sister struggle against those beliefs. Merrick's sister attempts suicide/his mother leaves home, and while he is searching for his Mom, he finds Coral. Brooke is a human with depression that is in therapy. The chapters alternate somewhat, and the original Little Mermaid story is loosely included in the plot as well.
This is a heavy book, as all the characters are brought together by one mental illness or another. I think the plot is executed well, but it won't be a re-read for me. ( )
  JennyNau10 | Dec 7, 2019 |
3.5 Stars

Let me state that Coral is not a re-telling of The Little Mermaid. It’s a reimagining of the beloved fairy tale. While there are elements of the original in Sara Ella’s rendition, most of the story is completely new. Another quick disclaimer: Please, please, please read the author’s note about triggers at the beginning of the book. If you choose to proceed after reading that, be sure and have some tissues handy.

Ella tackles some extremely difficult topes such as depression, suicide, self-harm, and vague mentions of abuse.

The three points of view—Coral, Merrick, and Brooke—did get a bit convoluted at first, but about halfway through the book, I had an epiphany about the connection between these characters and everything started to click (my hunch was, indeed, spot-on).

I will say that while Ella handles her topics with care and consideration, I was disappointed there wasn’t any sort of faith thread in the story. It would have given the overall tone of the book more hope-of-things-to-come filled than the darker overtones.

That said, this story engaged me in the lives of the characters, and my heart hurt for them in their pain, despair, and loss.

I reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own. ( )
  Suzie27 | Dec 3, 2019 |
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