When We Believed In Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal

Book Cover


Her sister has been dead for fifteen years when she sees her on the TV news…

Josie Bianci was killed years ago on a train during a terrorist attack. Gone forever. It’s what her sister, Kit, an ER doctor in Santa Cruz, has always believed. Yet all it takes is a few heart-wrenching seconds to upend Kit’s world. Live coverage of a club fire in Auckland has captured the image of a woman stumbling through the smoke and debris. Her resemblance to Josie is unbelievable. And unmistakable. With it comes a flood of emotions—grief, loss, and anger—that Kit finally has a chance to put to rest: by finding the sister who’s been living a lie.

After arriving in New Zealand, Kit begins her journey with the memories of the past: of days spent on the beach with Josie. Of a lost teenage boy who’d become part of their family. And of a trauma that has haunted Kit and Josie their entire lives.

Now, if two sisters are to reunite, it can only be by unearthing long-buried secrets and facing a devastating truth that has kept them apart far too long. To regain their relationship, they may have to lose everything.

From the author of The Art of Inheriting Secrets comes an emotional new tale of two sisters, an ocean of lies, and a search for the truth.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this book.

I liked the writing style and I really loved Kit’s character. I could really feel her conflicted emotions and empathise. Perhaps it was because we first learn about her through Kit’s narrative and I felt a bit of a grudge against her from the get-go, but I just didn’t feel the same amount of empathy toward Josie/Mari the way I did Kit, even though her story should have had me weeping for her. That moment on the beach with Dylan and Cinder struck straight at my heart because it was so unexpected and unbelievably poignant.

As a New Zealander I did eye twitch at a couple of errors which no one but another NZer would notice (for example, there is no ‘s’ in the Maori language so the plural of kiwi is kiwi. It does get ignorantly added in speech, but in written form there should not be an ‘s’ on the end). I can’t even remember the other things now as they were trivial and they certainly didn’t impede my enjoyment of the book.

It was a good ending, although one bit was just a little soppy. I would absolutely pick up another book by this author.

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