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When We Believed in Mermaids

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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. 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 b 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. 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.


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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. 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 b 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. 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.

30 review for When We Believed in Mermaids

  1. 4 out of 5

    BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books)

    What I Loved: I loved the cover of this book. Fair warning, this was not a well-liked book for me. How I Felt: The beginning of this book had me completely hooked. "My sister had been dead for fifteen years when I see her on the TV news." I was like, "Yes!" This book is going to be awesome!" I felt so let down from that point on. I, in no way, ever want to bash a book, and I am usually finding myself handing out 4 and 5 star reviews because I just love books, but I was on the Struggle-Bus for thi What I Loved: I loved the cover of this book. Fair warning, this was not a well-liked book for me. How I Felt: The beginning of this book had me completely hooked. "My sister had been dead for fifteen years when I see her on the TV news." I was like, "Yes!" This book is going to be awesome!" I felt so let down from that point on. I, in no way, ever want to bash a book, and I am usually finding myself handing out 4 and 5 star reviews because I just love books, but I was on the Struggle-Bus for this entire book. My Gripes: I was bored with the story line and completely unconnected with the characters. O'Neal's writing was beautiful and descriptive, however, it was overly fluffy for the story. There is an entire story line surrounding a house and it has all this mystery about a murder, and I kept waiting for that part of the story to flesh out, but it just fizzled into nothing. It could have been completely removed from the book and it would not have affected the story at all. It would have improved the length of the story, however. The two main characters are sisters, and one is thought to be dead for 15 years until her sister catches a glimpse her on TV. There was so much side-fluff happening, and I couldn't understand why. If I thought my sister had been dead for 15 years, and then I see her on TV, I wouldn't be traipsing around New Zealand, I would be so focused on finding her. Ultimately, this book missed the mark for me because the characters were not written in a way that made you understand their actions enough. I was constantly questioning WHY this or that issue was the thing ruining their lives. Additionally, I felt that the placement of when I was given a "big reveal" about what had happened to a character, it was truly the third or fourth time it had been referenced, and I just wasn't surprised about it. I was, however, frustrated that I had to read it again. To Read or Not To Read: For me, this is a big fat not to read. However, I have scanned the Goodreads comments, and while there are people like me, there are a lot of people that really did enjoy this book. Many of the 4+ star comments also note that they almost did not finish this book, so most readers and I agree that it's a struggle. For some, however, the book redeemed itself, for me, it did not. So, I'm suggesting that if the synopsis sounds good to you, pick it up and give it a try. Maybe you'll have a better experience than me! What's This Book About Anyway? Kit's sister has been dead for 15 years until she spots her on a news reel on TV. At her mother's instance, Kit hops on a plane to New Zealand where the news came from, checks into a hotel and starts looking for her sister. Kit finds an unexpected romance in the middle of all of this. She must break down her barriers built up from her childhood to be able to truly let love in. There are many childhood secrets and the memories begin to pop up for Kit. The book is written from the perspective of Kit, and her sister Josie. Kit will be one chapter, and then it will change to Josie. The perspectives were nice to help understand why each character felt the way they did. There are a lot of flashbacks to help us see all the secrets from their past. They will need to understand each other and their childhood to move forward.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    When we Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal is a 2019 Lake Union publication. A drama that probes the complexity of family, sisterly bonds and the power of love and forgiveness Kit’s sister, Josie, died years ago during a terrorist attack. But, while watching television footage of a club fire, Kit swears that one of the people stumbling out of the smoke and debris is Josie. The resemblance is so uncanny, even Kit’s mother is shaken by it and urges Kit to take time off to pursue the possibilit When we Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal is a 2019 Lake Union publication. A drama that probes the complexity of family, sisterly bonds and the power of love and forgiveness Kit’s sister, Josie, died years ago during a terrorist attack. But, while watching television footage of a club fire, Kit swears that one of the people stumbling out of the smoke and debris is Josie. The resemblance is so uncanny, even Kit’s mother is shaken by it and urges Kit to take time off to pursue the possibility her sister might still be alive. To that end, she travels to New Zealand, where her search will lead to a host of startling revelations and will change forever her perceptions of the past, the present, of her family, and of herself… I am a sucker for family dramas packed with secrets and lies. This is a touching novel that reminds us that family is family, and that certain bonds, no matter how complicated or difficult, are unbreakable. While mother and daughter relationships are lightly examined, the bond between sisters is at the heart of the story. The other relationships featured in this tale, are romantic ones. While ‘Josie’s’ marriage is one that must be explored, Kit’s burgeoning relationship with Javier, a man she meets upon her arrival in New Zealand, is often in the forefront- maybe too much so in the beginning. I had begun to question Kit's resolve to locate her sister as she spent more time pursuing her attraction to Javier that looking for Josie. I also had trouble feeling the chemistry between the couple, initially, maybe because I was more interested in finding out if Kit’s sister was alive, and if so, what would happen when they finally met face to face. I was also more invested in Josie’s marriage and what her husband would do once he found out the truth. But, as the past began to merge with the present and the fragmented pieces of all the relationships began to form a cohesive unit, I warmed up to Javier a bit more, and absolutely loved the way the story came together in the end. Overall, this was a wonderful, very engrossing story, with strong themes of familial love, forgiveness, and redemption. It’s also a story about finding inner strength, owning one’s mistakes, resilience, personal growth and love’s power to heal broken relationships. While there are some serious issues explored in this novel, ultimately, it is an uplifting, satisfying book, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. *Content warning- (view spoiler)[ sexual situations, drug use, child sexual abuse, suicide, and child neglect (hide spoiler)]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    You're Going To Want To Read This Somewhere Where You Can Cry. Wow. This is a tragic tale, all around. It is primarily about two sisters and the scars they share - and the lengths they will both go to try to overcome them. Amazing story, solid mystery (though some of it becomes obvious earlier than the actual reveal). This one will grabs you with the first line, has you tearing up a bit early on... and then can have full on water works through the last quarter to third or so of the tale. Light a You're Going To Want To Read This Somewhere Where You Can Cry. Wow. This is a tragic tale, all around. It is primarily about two sisters and the scars they share - and the lengths they will both go to try to overcome them. Amazing story, solid mystery (though some of it becomes obvious earlier than the actual reveal). This one will grabs you with the first line, has you tearing up a bit early on... and then can have full on water works through the last quarter to third or so of the tale. Light and airy, this aint - but it *is* one of the better, more intense dramas I've read this year. A remarkable contrast to O'Neal's 2018 book The Art of Inheriting Secrets. Very much recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gemma Clark

    So much wasted potential. Fair warning, I did not enjoy this book. (I don't think there's spoilers but proceed at risk) I’m absolutely gutted at how dreadful this book was. It has firmly lodged itself in my top five least favourite books of the past couple of years and almost led me to have a January DNF – as if January 2020 hasn’t been bad enough as it is. This year I decided to put aside some of my beloved fantasy in favour for a little more dramatic reading. After this, I think I’ll be convert So much wasted potential. Fair warning, I did not enjoy this book. (I don't think there's spoilers but proceed at risk) I’m absolutely gutted at how dreadful this book was. It has firmly lodged itself in my top five least favourite books of the past couple of years and almost led me to have a January DNF – as if January 2020 hasn’t been bad enough as it is. This year I decided to put aside some of my beloved fantasy in favour for a little more dramatic reading. After this, I think I’ll be converting back again. I was so excited by this premise; a potentially faked death; a house filled with history and mystery; a tortured past interwoven with melancholy and intrigue; the question of where did it all go wrong; the beautiful back-drop of New Zealand and a family ripped apart – but by what? Instead, we got a couple of hundred pages of two colourless women reflecting on a much more interesting, if tragic past, interspersed with a surplus of flowery language that added nothing to a story with absolutely no plot. The tone was so confused. O'Neal should have made up her mind – was she depicting a romantic vision of two sisters torn apart by time and reconnecting in a peaceful re-imagination of their childhood home by the sea? Or was she writing a tragic and gritty story of two traumatised adults looking for closure? Because she failed at both. In more skilled hands, the dual tone of this story could have made for a heart-breaking and emotive piece, something that made you recoil in horror from their grim childhood but empathise with the women they became as a result. Quite frankly I didn’t really care if either of them got a happy ending. They were boring characters who need to go to therapy asap, not go on a magical mystery tour down memory lane. The flashbacks were the most interesting, but they felt like they were written by someone else entirely. Not just because of the tonal shift in these memories, but the style was altogether more readable, cohesive and enjoyable. All the nonsense with Kit running around New Zealand and her affair with Javier was… fine, I suppose. But what on earth did that add to the plot?? If she hadn’t met him, her story wouldn’t have changed except that we’d have heard her side through internal monologue. His relevance only really appears at the end, along with the other shreds of plot. And why, WHY, did we have to hear so much about Mari and her house renovations? We’re not reading Architectural Digest and I didn’t care at all what her opinion on windows was. It added nothing and slowed down an already dragging story. The attempt to shoehorn a side plot investigation about the movie stars death could have made an excellent addition and breathed some much-needed life into Mari’s dull as hell story, but it was completely forgotten! I thought that with the mention of the computer and the journals we would get a tasty little puzzle to solve but no. It’s literally not mentioned again, other than as a very brief after thought at the end. What was even the point in including it?? All in all I think this was a poorly constructed and weakly executed story that the author had no real direction with whilst writing. I'd heard good things about O'Neal, but off the back of this, I won't be heartbroken if I don't encounter her again.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Adamek

    I am planning, sometime in the future, on re-reading this book. Barbara O´Neal is one of my favorite authors, her descriptive abilities are powerful... lush. I have to admit that I couldn´t dnf this story. it wasn´t boring or slow. If anything it was (for me) too detailed, too dark. I admit I read to a certain degree to escape. To experience things (even if only on paper) like visiting new places, foods, ideas or even time periods. And this story did give me the first three of these things--it wa I am planning, sometime in the future, on re-reading this book. Barbara O´Neal is one of my favorite authors, her descriptive abilities are powerful... lush. I have to admit that I couldn´t dnf this story. it wasn´t boring or slow. If anything it was (for me) too detailed, too dark. I admit I read to a certain degree to escape. To experience things (even if only on paper) like visiting new places, foods, ideas or even time periods. And this story did give me the first three of these things--it was truly well written. But it didn´t give me enough hope. I feel like you do when you eat too much of something really heavy and you feel it sitting in the pit of your stomach hours latter. Like I said, I plan on re-reading this. In the hope that I just picked the wrong time in reading this the first time. Now the story is sitting heavily in my mind, and it is dark.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ink_Drinker

    The book is primarily about two sisters, the scars they share and the lengths they will both go to try and overcome them. I was immediately drawn in! I instantly connected with this author's writing style and characters. The book is an easy read and may be predictable at times, but I tend to look for this in a light read. The book provides romance, lies, passion, and betrayals with a little mystery thrown in. Something for everyone The book is primarily about two sisters, the scars they share and the lengths they will both go to try and overcome them. I was immediately drawn in! I instantly connected with this author's writing style and characters. The book is an easy read and may be predictable at times, but I tend to look for this in a light read. The book provides romance, lies, passion, and betrayals with a little mystery thrown in. Something for everyone

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    When We Believed in Mermaids is an engrossing, turbulent, and poignant book about two sisters, Kit and Josie. When the story begins, Kit is shocked to see her sister in the background of a news broadcast from New Zealand, thousands of miles away from their home in California--especially since Josie had been killed 15 years earlier. When she goes to New Zealand to find her sister, Kit unknowingly sets off a chain of events that will impact her own life, as well as that of her sister and the life When We Believed in Mermaids is an engrossing, turbulent, and poignant book about two sisters, Kit and Josie. When the story begins, Kit is shocked to see her sister in the background of a news broadcast from New Zealand, thousands of miles away from their home in California--especially since Josie had been killed 15 years earlier. When she goes to New Zealand to find her sister, Kit unknowingly sets off a chain of events that will impact her own life, as well as that of her sister and the life she has built. Kit and Josie were such complex, fascinating characters, each of them reacting to the pain of their childhoods which left them emotionally scarred. The flashbacks in the story give so much insight to the horrors of their childhood; the neglect, the abuse, the addictions. But they also show us the love the two sisters had for each other, the closeness they shared until it all went horribly wrong. The setting of the book was fantastic, from the beaches of Santa Cruz to the beauty of New Zealand. And the surfing! The author's descriptions of the girls as they surfed from the time they were children made it feel like I was in the middle of those waves with them! The pages of this book are filled with love; love between sisters, the love of children for their parents, steadfast love, and new love; and how love can somehow withstand everything that threatens to destroy it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    3.5 stars. I enjoyed it, but... I was often annoyed with the characters, the narration, the speed with which everything occurred. (Maybe I was just reading with my grumpy pants on). The blurb is pretty good at giving the basic set-up. The chapters alternate viewpoints between Kit and Mari, with each chapter revealing more of the past while also grounding us in each sister's current life. Kit's search for her sister (and her budding romance with Javier) seem to take longer than the few days that th 3.5 stars. I enjoyed it, but... I was often annoyed with the characters, the narration, the speed with which everything occurred. (Maybe I was just reading with my grumpy pants on). The blurb is pretty good at giving the basic set-up. The chapters alternate viewpoints between Kit and Mari, with each chapter revealing more of the past while also grounding us in each sister's current life. Kit's search for her sister (and her budding romance with Javier) seem to take longer than the few days that the author claims it does. Mari and her husband have acquired the fabulous 1930's mansion of a famous actress, who was murdered. The author tries to shoehorn in a 'solve the mystery' subplot, which fizzles for lack of time on the page. (we do learn 'whodunnit', but it is a throwaway line at the end of the book). I did enjoy all the house details (HGTV reno-porn)--I guess it was all there to give us an idea of Mari's life now, but the elaborate house wasn't necessary as a setting for all of the emotional upheaval that takes place there. All of my quibbles aside (I am avoiding talking about the ending, which was good, but... ), I did read it cover to cover. I also plan on reading her next one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    To be honest, I wasn't impressed. The synopsis sounded more promising than what was actually delivered. The book fell flat for me. If you want to read a good book about sisters, I suggest reading Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner instead! To be honest, I wasn't impressed. The synopsis sounded more promising than what was actually delivered. The book fell flat for me. If you want to read a good book about sisters, I suggest reading Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner instead!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kiki Z

    This book was a solid read but a few things kept me from really enjoying it. One, Josie is very selfish, and when she's young, with her issues, it's understandable. As an adult though... I really cannot fathom how she stayed away from her family for fifteen years seemingly without remorse, lied to her husband for over a decade, and thought she could get away with it. Two, Josie and Kit reconnect far too late in the story for real drama to happen, so the ending is lackluster. Everything is forgiv This book was a solid read but a few things kept me from really enjoying it. One, Josie is very selfish, and when she's young, with her issues, it's understandable. As an adult though... I really cannot fathom how she stayed away from her family for fifteen years seemingly without remorse, lied to her husband for over a decade, and thought she could get away with it. Two, Josie and Kit reconnect far too late in the story for real drama to happen, so the ending is lackluster. Everything is forgiven rather quickly. Three, Kit as an adult is often an uninteresting character to me. Four, the romance between Kit and Javier seems out of place and took up time that should have been dedicated to the family drama. Not to mention, the fact that romance is part of how to show Kit is all healed is a problematic trope. I would have given her close friends to start with it; it doesn't seem like she has any. Five, the travel talk. Parts of this book read like a travel to New Zealand ad. I could have used less talk about how beautiful the harbors were and more of the plot. And finally six: there's a distinct lack of tension, probably because it takes too long for the sisters to meet again. Their tragic past is the most interesting part of the novel. Everything else is mired with too much focus on romance, entirely too much focus on the backstory of Josie's new house, and unnecessary discussion about things that don't affect the plot. I don't care Josie's daughter may be having issues in school and I don't care about how she'll renovate her home or her walks with her friends or anything else. Josie shouldn't have been a point of view in the beginning of the novel because all she does is silently regret things and make no effort to fix them. She doesn't impact the plot at all for the first half. Not to mention, knowing she's alive and well and totally fine while her sister's life is a mess... again, there's no tension in that, and it doesn't make her character very likable. By the end of the book, I'd pretty much lost most of my sympathy for her. I felt sorry for Josie but not Mari, if that makes sense.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Beck

    There are too many things to rave about here. Lush writing, as always with this author. You will feel transported to New Zealand, a place I think we must all go visit. You'll be lulled into an intensely romantic subplot. You'll have a front row seat to a bittersweet reunion filled with angst and hope and disappointment and love. This story is really set in two time periods, but is elegantly, artfully woven together by well-placed flashbacks that resonate so deeply. And the tragedies that befell There are too many things to rave about here. Lush writing, as always with this author. You will feel transported to New Zealand, a place I think we must all go visit. You'll be lulled into an intensely romantic subplot. You'll have a front row seat to a bittersweet reunion filled with angst and hope and disappointment and love. This story is really set in two time periods, but is elegantly, artfully woven together by well-placed flashbacks that resonate so deeply. And the tragedies that befell this family, these sisters--wow. I can't (and wouldn't want to try to) summarize the plot without spoiling the experience for you, so all I can say is go pick up this beautiful story of love, redemption, and forgiveness. You won't be sorry, I promise.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jo Furniss

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I just found this whole book so unrealistic. As a NZ’er who lives in Auckland I have to point out we don’t get earthquakes in Auckland, we also don’t refer to Maori people as ‘Maori’s’ (the slim Maori girl behind the counter, the chubby Maori driver) 🤦🏼‍♀️ just no. And then just happened to run into her sister on the street? Are you kidding me

  13. 4 out of 5

    Constantine

    Rating: Good Genre: Contemporary I have seen this book on Kindle Unlimited's best seller for a long time so I decided to give it a chance. I went into it without even reading the synopsis. It is the story of two sisters Kit and Josie. Josie was killed many years ago while being on a train due to a terrorist attack. One day, while watching live coverage of a club fire in Auckland Kit sees this woman on the TV who looks like Josie a lot. She believes it is Josie so she travels to New Zealand to find Rating: Good Genre: Contemporary I have seen this book on Kindle Unlimited's best seller for a long time so I decided to give it a chance. I went into it without even reading the synopsis. It is the story of two sisters Kit and Josie. Josie was killed many years ago while being on a train due to a terrorist attack. One day, while watching live coverage of a club fire in Auckland Kit sees this woman on the TV who looks like Josie a lot. She believes it is Josie so she travels to New Zealand to find her sister. The story is told from the perspective of the two main characters and the timeframe alternates between the present and the past. As the story progresses the reader will understand the two characters in a better way and can make a good understanding of their motives. There are some trigger warnings here you need to be aware of, but I am not going to mention any because I feel they will spoil the story. When We Believed in Mermaids is a good book, enjoyable and have some substance and that family bonding thing if that is what you are looking for but I feel the 5 stars on Goodreads and Amazon are exaggerated a bit. I am not disappointed that I read the book because it is an engrossing experience but I feel a good 3 stars rating is more appropriate for it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    When We Believed In Mermaids is a novel about sisters, love, lies, loss and healing. The storyline switches between two sisters and between the past and the present. I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written story!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Linda Lewis

    Wish I had seen that the genre was “romance “ and “chick lit” (what a horrid term!). The book description focuses on the relationship between the two sisters and promises suspense but reader beware —— you’ll spend pages upon pages on inane descriptions of kit and her budding romance and every detail of their pastries and his chest hair and sunglasses, with only glimpses of the actual plot. I really hate to not finish a book but I couldn’t make it past page 91.

  16. 4 out of 5

    L.A. Starks

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This author is a pro with a genre I would call "heavy-topic relationship and romantic suspense." While this is fundamentally a story of a family and its dysfunction wrapped in the suspense of finding a believed-dead sister, readers should also be aware it deals with rape, child neglect and abuse, abortion, and drug use. O'Neal is an experienced author who makes readers feel so deeply about her characters it is as if she has written a biography or memoir rather than fiction. Highly recommended. This author is a pro with a genre I would call "heavy-topic relationship and romantic suspense." While this is fundamentally a story of a family and its dysfunction wrapped in the suspense of finding a believed-dead sister, readers should also be aware it deals with rape, child neglect and abuse, abortion, and drug use. O'Neal is an experienced author who makes readers feel so deeply about her characters it is as if she has written a biography or memoir rather than fiction. Highly recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Myrna

    Powerful story of love and family with very likable characters. Liked how the story weaved the characters’ past with the present. Many readers are giving this 5 stars but it didn’t WOW me. Nevertheless a great read with some romance and mystery if that’s what you’re looking for.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Kyle

    4 Stars 🌟

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book was... less than mediocre. The book claims to be some kind of mystery but really, it's not. The first line is Kit seeing her presumed-dead-from-a-terror-attack-in-France sister on the news about a nightclub fire in New Zealand. So Kit flies off to Auckland to... hook up with a Spanish musician and eat pastries and buy inks and hook up with the Spanish musician some more and comment on his chest hair and spare-tire belly and she asks like 2 people if they've seen her sister and ugh... It This book was... less than mediocre. The book claims to be some kind of mystery but really, it's not. The first line is Kit seeing her presumed-dead-from-a-terror-attack-in-France sister on the news about a nightclub fire in New Zealand. So Kit flies off to Auckland to... hook up with a Spanish musician and eat pastries and buy inks and hook up with the Spanish musician some more and comment on his chest hair and spare-tire belly and she asks like 2 people if they've seen her sister and ugh... It would have been better if Kit was getting swept up with her boyfriend after putting a bit more effort into finding her sister, like coming against dead ends while actually trying to solve the mystery... instead of just going on (the author's) whole "Eat, Pray, Love" fantasy. How she winds up finding her is just boring as well and certainly not even worth the dramatic build up. Nothing satisfying here. The whole story is a let down. It falls flat and does not deliver at all on the premise. I want to say the writing makes up for it. At times the prose are lush and descriptive, a step up from a grocery store romance. But then at times you get lines like,"I love her like she's one of my own organs" which is just cringe. In short, this was a boring non-mystery masquerading as a mystery. Not recommended.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I wanted to like it. I tried. I wanted to like the book. I finished it. However, the long detailed flashbacks that a woman has, who started her life over 15 years ago, it was just repetitive and unrealistic that she was having them the same time her sister happened to be in town. Just the flashback style alone...I couldn’t. It was over reaching. She looked out a window...had a flashback. Wrote with her fountain pen...had a memory. A very detailed memory. Was this her daily life? FOR 15 YEARS? No. I wanted to like it. I tried. I wanted to like the book. I finished it. However, the long detailed flashbacks that a woman has, who started her life over 15 years ago, it was just repetitive and unrealistic that she was having them the same time her sister happened to be in town. Just the flashback style alone...I couldn’t. It was over reaching. She looked out a window...had a flashback. Wrote with her fountain pen...had a memory. A very detailed memory. Was this her daily life? FOR 15 YEARS? No. Grab the fountain pen, make your list and let’s go.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Stunning, quick read that I finished in just two sittings! When We Believed in Mermaids is a raw and tormented story of two sisters. Their tale is told in alternating chapters with flash backs to their tumultuous childhood that was filled with neglect, abuse, and addiction. It's a story that made me question what is family, what is love, and when is it better to walk away? I highly recommend, but have your tissues nearby! Stunning, quick read that I finished in just two sittings! When We Believed in Mermaids is a raw and tormented story of two sisters. Their tale is told in alternating chapters with flash backs to their tumultuous childhood that was filled with neglect, abuse, and addiction. It's a story that made me question what is family, what is love, and when is it better to walk away? I highly recommend, but have your tissues nearby!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Miki Mackennedy

    “My sister has been dead for nearly fifteen years when I see her on the TV news.” With that fantastic opening line, we drop in to the story of 2 sisters, one presumed dead and one barely living. Two little girls, Josie and Kit, are raised by parents so enthralled with each other that they neglect their children, leaving them largely unattended in a little cove by their home. During a storm, a broken and unwanted teenage boy appears as their door, offering the girls a bit of security and stability “My sister has been dead for nearly fifteen years when I see her on the TV news.” With that fantastic opening line, we drop in to the story of 2 sisters, one presumed dead and one barely living. Two little girls, Josie and Kit, are raised by parents so enthralled with each other that they neglect their children, leaving them largely unattended in a little cove by their home. During a storm, a broken and unwanted teenage boy appears as their door, offering the girls a bit of security and stability but he has his own issues of neglect and abuse. Josie dies in a terrorist attack, or at least seems to, until 15 years later, when Kit and her mother see her on the news. But Josie isn’t Josie anymore. Kit goes half a world away to track down her sister and get some answers. The description of the events of these two lives, abuse, neglect, death, catastrophe and ultimately rebuilding of a sort, is like being battered by wave after wave, with periods of calm just long enough to catch your breath. The ocean is a central theme in the telling of this story but also in how it’s told, the ebb and flow of past and present, the switching narrative of sister to sister. O’Neal does a beautiful job with language, immersing the reader into the ocean, the atmosphere and even the food. I could have done with less of the sizzling romance although I realize that it was important to show Kit letting her guard down and being open to reevaluate her life. I feel that this particular bit of story line as the story of Sapphire House detracted from the main plot, turning it from a 4 star to a 3 star for me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Faith Freewoman

    Heartrending and beautiful. But this is no easy ride. The sisters' problems are real and crushing, and about halfway through I was far from convinced that they would resolve them, or their relationships. The men in this story are villains or heroes, or both, and I found Dylan the most poignant, while Javier was the one I want to take home with me. But none of the men are able to step in and save the day. The sisters must do it for themselves, and fight through very difficult histories to get ther Heartrending and beautiful. But this is no easy ride. The sisters' problems are real and crushing, and about halfway through I was far from convinced that they would resolve them, or their relationships. The men in this story are villains or heroes, or both, and I found Dylan the most poignant, while Javier was the one I want to take home with me. But none of the men are able to step in and save the day. The sisters must do it for themselves, and fight through very difficult histories to get there. If you're up for a lovely visit to New Zealand and a story you're going to want stay up all night to finish, I recommend When We Believed in Mermaids.

  24. 4 out of 5

    chels marieantoinette

    This book was a little cheesy for me. The love story and all the woah-is-me stuff were a little too much and I found myself uninterested & irritated. Kit and Josie definitely had horrible childhoods, but everyone needs to move on and move up eventually. I wanted to shake both of them. The dialogue was well-written, though. The descriptions of surfing, Sicilian home-cooking, touring Auckland, and the art-deco Sapphire House create beautiful imagery. I’d recommend this book to anyone into love stori This book was a little cheesy for me. The love story and all the woah-is-me stuff were a little too much and I found myself uninterested & irritated. Kit and Josie definitely had horrible childhoods, but everyone needs to move on and move up eventually. I wanted to shake both of them. The dialogue was well-written, though. The descriptions of surfing, Sicilian home-cooking, touring Auckland, and the art-deco Sapphire House create beautiful imagery. I’d recommend this book to anyone into love stories, family drama, and an interest in childhood traumas. Could be a definite trigger for anyone who experienced childhood sexual or physical abuse, though.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sherri Thacker

    A quick read that I really enjoyed.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karen Book bum Bianco

    I just loved this book. The way the author describes things makes you vision what she is seeing in her mind. Makes you feel what the characters are feeling taste what they are eating. ok I am getting carried away but i haven't had breakfast and I sure am hungry 🤣 When I found out why she made herself disappear I was disappointed. I was thinking I could have thought of something better. I would have made her a spy or a mob hit woman who had to dissapear 🤣But when I finished I wouldn't have changed I just loved this book. The way the author describes things makes you vision what she is seeing in her mind. Makes you feel what the characters are feeling taste what they are eating. ok I am getting carried away but i haven't had breakfast and I sure am hungry 🤣 When I found out why she made herself disappear I was disappointed. I was thinking I could have thought of something better. I would have made her a spy or a mob hit woman who had to dissapear 🤣But when I finished I wouldn't have changed a thing. It had to be simple so Mari/Josie could be forgiven. To give me such a beautiful heart felt ending.

  27. 5 out of 5

    ✨Sofia ✨

    “There are seasons of darkness, yes? Loss and sadness all around.” He tightens his grip. “But if you are patient, the circle turns, and then there is happiness all around, everything good, everyone happy.” The story of Jodie and Kit, of long lost sisters, so promising. From the premise alone, I was already hooked. However, everything fell flat for me. Here's why: What I liked/loved about this book 1. Javier. And probably Sarah too. Yup, that's it. What I didn’t like 1. The writing It felt too fluf “There are seasons of darkness, yes? Loss and sadness all around.” He tightens his grip. “But if you are patient, the circle turns, and then there is happiness all around, everything good, everyone happy.” The story of Jodie and Kit, of long lost sisters, so promising. From the premise alone, I was already hooked. However, everything fell flat for me. Here's why: What I liked/loved about this book 1. Javier. And probably Sarah too. Yup, that's it. What I didn’t like 1. The writing It felt too fluffy and flowery for what was supposed to be a heavily serious story. Of a never ending web of lies between two sisters separated not just by miles of ocean but by a fake death. I was frustrated because instead of heartfelt and genuine, I found the writing style to be pretentious and cold. I should have connected to Jodie and Kit on another level considering I too am incredibly close with my sister but this just did nothing for me in terms of relatability. 2. The dual POV If done right, it would have been an intimate look into the minds and lives of both sisters but instead felt choppy and jarring. There was hardly any time being focused into who they really were and too much time on mundane and irrelevant things like the Sapphire house. 3. The romance I loved Javier. LOVED HIM. But I felt like we met him so early on in the story but got just snippets and bits of him that never fully allowed me as a reader to understand and wrap my head around him as Kit's love interest. Their relationship felt like it sped by in ways I didn't appreciate and slowed down just when the story was about to end. I can't help but think that I'm not the intended audience for this, as shown by the 20,000 plus ratings averaging 4.25/5 stars. I wish I could have loved it because it showed so much potential but it just lacked the heart and emotion in all the parts that mattered.

  28. 5 out of 5

    RedRedtheycallmeRed

    Kit travels to New Zealand to find out if that really was her sister Josie she saw briefly on TV. Her very ordered life as an ER doctor is thrown off balance in a good way. The book goes back and forth between the sister's POV, and throughout there are also flashbacks to a tragic and chaotic childhood. It's a very emotional book, there is a lot of grief in the sister's lives. But there's also joy, and I very much enjoyed the romance between Kit and Javier. I found Kit a more compelling character Kit travels to New Zealand to find out if that really was her sister Josie she saw briefly on TV. Her very ordered life as an ER doctor is thrown off balance in a good way. The book goes back and forth between the sister's POV, and throughout there are also flashbacks to a tragic and chaotic childhood. It's a very emotional book, there is a lot of grief in the sister's lives. But there's also joy, and I very much enjoyed the romance between Kit and Javier. I found Kit a more compelling character than her sister, who was a little obsessed with her new house (the only part of the story I really didn't like).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Kit Bianci believed her sister was dead, that is until she saw her on the television news 15 years later. Kit decides to travel to New Zealand and find her sister Josie and get some sort of explanation or closure. When the two sisters are reunited all their dark secrets are revealed. They will have to share all of them in order to move on and fix the broken relationships. I found this book to be very slow to start and was almost halfway through the book before I started to enjoy it. I found Kit' Kit Bianci believed her sister was dead, that is until she saw her on the television news 15 years later. Kit decides to travel to New Zealand and find her sister Josie and get some sort of explanation or closure. When the two sisters are reunited all their dark secrets are revealed. They will have to share all of them in order to move on and fix the broken relationships. I found this book to be very slow to start and was almost halfway through the book before I started to enjoy it. I found Kit's romance and Josie's Sapphire House were used as filler during the first portion of the book. I get that Kit's romance needed to be there to show her guard weakening but it could have been shortened. I didn't see any purpose in the all the parts about Sapphire House. I don't feel like they added anything to the story and I feel like this book wouldn't have been missing anything had it of been left out completely. I liked how the book was told in the perspective of both sisters. The perspective keeps switching between the sisters per chapter, each picking up where the last one left off. I think it added emotion and depth to the characters as it allowed the reader to know what they were thinking about major points in the story. So, I ended up being slightly disappointed with this book. While the ending was partially redeeming, I expected a lot more from it. Is it possible that I hyped this book up too much to myself and it's my own fault I didn't enjoy it more? Yes it is. I consider this a lesson learned.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Wow! It has been a while since I read a book that moved me like this one. Probably not since I read Where The Crawdads Sing a year and a half ago. On the surface it is about two sisters growing up, raising themselves and each other, on the Northern California coast. Their parents owned a restaurant and house both of which hung on a cliff. A runaway boy comes into their lives when they are very young. He takes care of them when their parents neglect them. He teaches them to surf and seems to be t Wow! It has been a while since I read a book that moved me like this one. Probably not since I read Where The Crawdads Sing a year and a half ago. On the surface it is about two sisters growing up, raising themselves and each other, on the Northern California coast. Their parents owned a restaurant and house both of which hung on a cliff. A runaway boy comes into their lives when they are very young. He takes care of them when their parents neglect them. He teaches them to surf and seems to be their guardian angel. The story begins when Kit, the younger sister, sees her sister Josie on a news report in New Zealand. The trouble is her sister supposedly died in a train crash in Paris 15 years ago. The story takes off right from the first page. It is told in two viewpoints which adds depth and details to the story. The author's writing style is very lyrical and flows but at the same time has a visceral feeling to it. The feelings and dialog ring true. When We Believed in Mermaids is a story that covers the whole gamut of human emotions and is at times difficult to read. In the end it is the story of love, betrayal, loss, secrets revealed, and finally, forgiveness. I would highly recommend this book but beware you will need a box of tissues.

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