Published November 12, 2019
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.
CORAL follows three different points-of-view: a girl who’s reluctantly addressing her suicidal feelings, a boy whose sister recently tried to die by suicide, and a mermaid whose sister seems to be succumbing to a deadly illness. At first I thought the mermaid sections would be a sort of direct retelling of Andersen’s fairy tale, and there are some similarities. But it’s a very re-imagined version of the story with a much broader look at heartbreak and depression how devastating they can be.
I feel like it took me a long time to get this book. It has three different points of view that eventually collide, and I kept trying to guess how they intersected. (Not the way I guessed.) Once they did, it was a little confusing for me to think back through the earlier part of the story and have it all make sense with the new information. Maybe just because it was a direction I didn’t expect? I’m not sure.
I really like the way the story shows how overpowering emotions and depression can be. I felt like it was easy to understand Brooke’s dark feelings, and the connection to the Little Mermaid fairy tale made sense in broad strokes.
Throughout CORAL, there’s a running theme where things aren’t what they seem. Merrick’s relationships with almost every other character surprise him. Brooke’s secrets change things, too. It created a layered feel to the story that I enjoyed. We aren’t always right about people– sometimes even the ones closest to us. So that rang true for me.
Overall, I thought CORAL was imaginative and a powerful exploration of emotions and depression. If you liked Sara Ella’s other books, I think you’ll like CORAL, too. Fans of the Syrena Legacy by Anna Banks will like the blend of mermaids and modern setting, too.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Merrick and his sister have Japanese grandparents on their dad’s side. Merrick’s sister and Brooke both battle depression and suicidal thoughts.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Brief kissing between boy and girl.
In Coral’s world, emotions are a sign of a disease that leads to death she refers to as Red Tide.
Violent Content – Trigger Warning for Suicide
Some references to and brief descriptions of suicide. Some suicidal ideation.
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